It doesn’t get a lot more simple, or cheap than rice and beans. Calorically dense, and micronutrient packed, if you keep everything in balance, adding grains and legumes to your main protein can really up the micronutrient ante. Billions of people across our planet (hello planet! I am still on your team!) and thousands of cultures have their own very special combinations.
I was asked this week if canned beans were less healthy than dried beans cooked from scratch. The nutritional profile is relatively similar, although canned beans do contain a lot more sodium. This can be reduced by rinsing the aquafaba from the beans. Aquafaba is a fancy word for that thick bean water in which canned beans are suspended. The French are very fond of making this into a vegan meringue. I do not like this idea at all. I am #teameggwhite. Canned beans are also more expensive. So there’s that.
Shebnation food prep for this week involves a cute little bean called the pigeon pea. It does look like a pea, but is a bean. I would label the flavor of this dish as “Puerto Rican Lite” if that’s a thing. Or maybe let’s call it cultural appropriation and all move on.
Chicken Thighs, Pigeon Peas, and Rice: Puerto Rican 'Lite' Style
Macros Per Serving: 495 Calories | 40 P | 18 F | 41 C . Fiber= 4 grams
Sometimes pigeon peas are called gandules, and make up the dish “arroz con gandules“, the traditional Puerto Rican recipe from which this was adapted. You should probably use a caldero, which is a rounded aluminum put, but I don’t have one so I used a stock pot and everything was fine. The Snackary rating was ‘I devoured it’.
- 20 ml olive oil
- 130 grams leeks, cleaned and finely chopped (use an onion if you do not have leeks)
- 100 grams raw carrot, finely chopped (guys, this is about 1 medium carrot- get it together)
- 86 grams dried guandules, or pigeon peas. If you want to use the canned version, use about 1/2 a can with the aquafaba drained
- 75 grams raw bell pepper, chopped (about 1 medium pepper)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 600 grams roasted boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8 thighs)
- 300 ml low sodium chicken broth
- 1 Tbsp cumin powder
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- salt and pepper
1.Pick through the pigeon peas and remove any stones, broken beans and general detritus you might find in there. If you are unsure whether or not something qualifies as detritus, ask yourself “Does this look like a pigeon pea?”. If the answer is no, it’s detritus, toss it. Cover the peas that survived your careful inspection with cold water and soak them for 30 minutes.
2.Drain the peas, pour into the pressure cooker with 1 tsp of salt, (I use the Instant Pot), cover with 2 inches of new water and cook on manual for 9 minutes. Depressurize the pot and drain the beans again. If you are using canned beans just open and drain the can. Remember, using only half the drained peas.
3.Preheat your oven to 400. Season the chicken thighs, generously, with salt and pepper. Bake on a parchment lined tray for about 20 minutes. Cool, chop and reserve. It should not be cooked to death. A little under is just fine.
4.Sauté the leeks, garlic, bell pepper and carrots in the 20 ml of olive oil, in a large a pan on the stove top. Season with salt and pepper and cook the vegetables for about 5-6 minutes.
5.Add the rice and stir until it’s combined. Add the cumin, chili powder and chopped chicken thighs. Add the 300 ml of chicken stock, bring to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer. Cook this on low heat, covered, for about 40 minutes. Check on it a few times, if it seems very dry add a bit of water (maybe 1/4 cup).
6.After 40 minutes has elapsed check the texture of the rice. If it is cooked great- you’re done. If not, keep cooking for 5-10 more minutes. Add in the cooked (or canned) pigeon peas, stir and divide between 4 containers. #boom. Lunch.