This Pigeon Peas and Rice recipe from The Bahamas is a country staple and delicious one-pot wonder. Bacon fries in a pan and then cooks alongside rice and peas to make a savory, comforting side dish or main meal!
The Conch Tragedy
I think today is as good of a time as any to tell you about the 2018 Christmas Conch Tragedy. Conch meat is massively popular in The Bahamas, and many of the national dishes of the country have this sea snail as a main ingredient (e.g. conch fritter, conch chowder, conch salad, etc.).
Conch is an incredibly elusive and scarce ingredient in the United State of America. In fact, it’s virtually impossible to find. In the days before Christmas that year, I made a call to my local fish market and learned that a shipment of conch meat was schedule to arrive at the store on Christmas Eve.
Not knowing the true rarity of this seashell treasure, I put off going to pick up the conch until after the holidays. Low and behold, by the time I made it to the store, the conch was long gone… with no restock date in sight!
My advice to you, dear readers, is this: if you stumble across conch meat, pick that monster up and take it home: You never know when you’ll need it. Or when you’ll be able to find it again.
Another Bahamian Treasure: Pigeon Peas and Rice
Another national meal of The Bahamas that would be delicious with a classic conch recipe is Pigeon Peas and Rice.
Thankfully, it is far simpler to unearth the ingredients needed for this recipe However, it still took some searching to finally find the cans of pigeon peas at Meijer. If you can’t find at your local grocery store, you can substitute canned green peas in a pinch. While not as sweet as pigeon peas, you’ll get a similar flavor and texture from green peas.
So how was this dish originally created? Pigeon Peas have been a staple in The Bahamas since the 19th century. Pigeon peas and corn were planted next to each other in fields and harvested around the same time. Because of this, corn was ground into grits and mixed with pigeon peas to make a hearty and delicious side dish.
As the years went on, rice finally found its way into the Caribbean through America. Corn grits moved to the side, and Bahamians began mixing their peas with white rice, cumin, tomatoes, and more. The method of cooking “browns” the rice and leaves the eater with a flavorful and satisfying side dish.
Classic Pigeon Peas and Rice Recipe
This recipe for Pigeon Peas and Rice comes from the man, the myth, the legend… Guy Fieri himself. I have changed a few items to create my satisfying version of this classic dish, like adding canned corn and skipping the green pepper.
Try my recipe and see what you think!
Here are the ingredients you need:
- Olive oil – for sautéing
- Red bell pepper
- Long grain white rice
- Kosher salt
- Tomato paste
- Canned veggies – pigeon peas, diced roasted tomatoes, corn
- Spices – oregano and cumin
- Chicken stock – I recommend low sodium chicken broth
- For garnishing – cilantro and scallions
Feel free to add or substitute any other vegetables that you want into this rice as well! Though it may not be traditional, pea pods, corn, cabbage, or broccoli would also be fantastic additions in this dish.
Customize it any way you’d like… Use up those veggies, folks!
Can I Make This Recipe Vegetarian or Vegan?
Absolutely! Easily make this a vegan pigeon peas and rice recipe with just a few ingredients swaps: Instead of bacon you can simply use more cooking oil, and cook with vegetable stock rather than chicken broth.
How to Make Pigeon Peas and Rice
A one-pan wonder and 35 minutes from start to finish, this dish is fantastic for a quick dinner after work! It is perfect for a hearty side dish or as a lighter main meal.
Here’s how to make this wonderfully simple recipe:
- Cooked chopped bacon in oil using a large Dutch oven or deep skillet.
- Next, add the chopped vegetables, rice and salt. Cook on medium-high heat for several minutes until the veggies have begun to soften and the rice is lightly toasted and browned.
- Adding one ingredient at a time, mix in the tomato paste, seasonings, canned vegetables, chicken stock and one cup of water.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover the pot with a lid and continue cooking, without stirring or removing the lid, until the rice is tender.
- Remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork. Garnish with cilantro and/or scallions and serve warm.
Get the Complete Bahamian Pigeon Peas and Rice Recipe Below!
This rice was spectacular on the first day that I made it, but the next morning it became even better. I fried an over-easy egg in a pan and put it over the rice. Cracking the yolk over the rice makes a beautiful sauce that adds an extra special POP to the dish. Mmmm… I could crack an egg on anything and be one happy gal!
If you like this rice recipe, you’ll also love this Armenian Rice with Vermicelli (Seriously. Try this.), or this Afghan Kabuli Pulao. And as always, please leave comments below to let me know what you think!
What Dishes Go Well With This Pigeon Peas and Rice Side Dish?
Perfect for a relaxing summer evening, Pigeon Peas and Rice would be a terrifically filling side dish to these Tropical Stuffed Avocados from Barbados or with Caribbean Seafood Salad from Antigua and Barbuda.
And if you’re going to enjoy Pigeon Peas and Rice as a light main meal on a busy weeknight, try these Plantain Chips as another quick side dish and snack.
For dessert, you have got to try this classic Coconut Bimini Bread recipe! It is a deliciously sweet bread from The Bahamas that is super yummy served with fresh fruits like mango and kiwi.
Pigeon Peas and Rice (The Bahamas)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 8 strips bacon finely chopped
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup red pepper finely diced
- 2 cups long grain white rice
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 15 oz can pigeon peas drained and rinsed
- 1 14.5 oz can chopped roasted tomatoes
- 1/2 15 oz can corn
- 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves finely chopped
- 1/4 cup scallions chopped for garnish
- Place a large Dutch oven over medium heat and add the oil and bacon. Cook, stirring, until the bacon is crispy and golden and the fat has rendered, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add the onions, green peppers, red peppers, rice and salt; cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and the rice is lightly toasted.
- Add the tomato paste and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring. Add the oregano, cumin, pigeon peas, corn, tomatoes, chicken stock and 1 cup water.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook until the rice is tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork. Garnish with cilantro and scallions.
Don’t forget to come back next week for more recipes from around the world!