Many variations of pigeon peas and rice are eaten throughout the Caribbean, from Jamaica to Puerto Rico. In this healthful West Indian version, salt pork is omitted and aromatic herbs and spices are sautéed in water instead of oil.
3 to 4 sprigs thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped bell peppers (a mix of green and red)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 can (16 oz.) pigeon peas, with liquid
3 tbsp. tomato paste
2 sprigs cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
1. Use your fingers to gently strip the thyme leaves from the stems. Discard the stems and set the fresh thyme aside.
2. In a large saucepan, combine 1/4 cup water, garlic, onion, and bell peppers. Cover and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the salt, black pepper, pigeon peas with liquid, and tomato paste. Stir well. Gently stir in the thyme and cilantro. Cook covered for another minute.
3. Stir in the rice and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for several seconds. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the rice grains are fluffy, 30 to 40 minutes.