Arroz con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice and Pigeon Peas)

Serves 6


For the Sofrito:
1 Roma tomato, seedless
5 garlic cloves
½ Spanish onion
¼ red onion
½ green pepper
½ red pepper
4 sweet cooking peppers (ají)
3 culantro leaves
4 cilantro leaves

For the Rice:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound ham hock, cut in ½-inch squares
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon achiote powder (annatto)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 15-ounce cans pigeon peas (reserve liquid)
3 cups short grain rice
2 cups hot water, plus liquid from pigeon peas cans
¼ cup stuffed olives, halved
1 plantain leaf


1. In a blender, grind all the sofrito ingredients thoroughly and set aside.

2. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon oil and add ham cubes, reserving some for final cooking steps. Brown ham at medium-high heat for 3–4 minutes. Set aside.

3. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the same pan. Add sofrito and cook for 3–4 minutes. Add tomato paste and achiote. Stir and cook for 3–4 additional minutes.

4. Add pigeon peas and cook for 1 minute at high heat. Add rice and mix well. Add 2 cups of water, liquid from pigeon peas cans, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook at medium-high heat until water evaporates. Lower heat, place plantain leaf over rice and cover with a lid. Cook for approximately 10–15 minutes or until rice is tender.

5. Add reserved ham cubes and olives to the rice 5 minutes before it is ready to be served. Mix well.

To learn more about me or my recipes, visit me at and at AARP, where I am a chef and nutrition expert.


Other recipes by Denisse:

Pastelón de Yuca y Pollo
Mango Pie
Venezuelan-style Chicken Pot Pie (Polvorosa de pollo)
Vegetarian Paella
Pumpkin Fritters
Cod in Tomato Sauce
Mexican Shredded Chicken in Smoky Tomato Sauce
Tlalpeño Soup (Caldo Tlalpeño)
The Mexican Tamale: A Delight for the Palate
Shrimp Asopao with Pigeon Peas


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