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Caribbean Peas and Rice originates here in the West Indies. Although my new friend Tay, the talented author behind Caribbean Vegan,has been schooling me that Caribbean food is so much more than rice and beans, tropical fruit and coconuts, I still find myself attracted to the more simplistic, albeit stereotypical, dishes associated with Caribbean cuisine.
This dish, Caribbean Peas and Rice, is traditionally made with pigeon peas (a type of legume), though regional variations with black-eyed peas exist due to the heavy Creole influence in the Caribbean.
Since I went for the black-eyed peas route, I also added more Creole elements to my interpretation--such as utilizing celery, a member of the "holy trinity" in Creole cuisine and adding a little tomato for complexity. I also added a bit of turmeric for color -- which I think gave the rice a stunning hue.
If you can't find Jamaican dried jerk seasoning (it's a dry spice, but not a rub -- those are salty), you can blend your own--there are plenty of recipes online and chances are you already have all the component spices in your cupboard. Mine is a mix of ginger, crushed pepper, ground pepper, garlic, onion, thyme, onion flakes, sugar and salt.
Check out this "Blooper" picture---I caught quite the reflection on my patio door!
All the flavors of the Caribbean captured in this easy, well balanced meal. You can also add vegan sausage sliced on the diagonal for a more varied dish.
1 bunch scallions, white parts sliced thin
2 whole celery ribs, minced
4 whole garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp fresh ginger root, minced
4 whole fresh thyme leaves
1½ tsp Tabasco green pepper sauce
2 tbsp ketchup
¼ tsp turmeric (optional)
1 bunch kale, chopped
15 ounces black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 cup brown rice, uncooked
2½ cups vegetable broth
Combine rice with 2 cups of vegetable broth in a large pot and set aside. Line a skillet with a thin layer of broth and add scallions, celery, garlic, ginger, thyme, jalapeno sauce and 1 tsp jerk seasoning. Cook over high heat, adding additional broth as necessary, until the celery is soft, about 3 minutes. Add remaining jerk seasoning, stirring to coat. Transfer to rice, add 2 squirts of ketchup and turmeric (for color), stirring to combine. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to low and simmer 40-50 minutes, until rice is cooked, but keep and eye on it, as you may need to add more broth or water (some brown rice is very thirsty). Meanwhile, lightly steam greens. Press out any excess water and chop into bite-sized pieces. Once rice is fully cooked, fluff with a spatula then stir in black-eyed peas and greens. Serve with jalapeno sauce on the table.