So I had some pigeon peas that needed a purpose. I had some leftover from my last stint of complicated Indian dishes many moons ago. (Long, expensive lists of ingredients, many trips to the Asian grocery. Long preparation.) Yeah…can’t afford Indian food from scratch right now, but those were the days!
Here’s a macro of the little cuties. These are brown pigeon peas. There is a green variety that often comes canned. It’s hard to explain their flavor. They look a little like black-eye peas, and have a slightly-similar flavor.
Totally new ingredient for me! Annatto (or Achiote) seeds. Found them in my regular grocery store. They were cheap and simple to use. They impart a saffron-like flavor and add color to the oil.
This is about all you need, minus the pigeon peas.
Here is what the annatto seeds do do the oil on low heat. Color and flavor! Then you strain them out. If you can’t get these, use saffron.
Well, I’ve never made anything caribbean before, and I’ve never used annatto seed. This was SO delicious. I even got a chance to use a brand new ingredient. PLEASE make this and enjoy. It is frugal, healthy and absolutely mouth-watering. I highly recommend having some mango slices on the side, and a twist on this might be to add chunks of mango in the salad. There’s something about the lime-tomato dressing that makes me feel tropical and I immediately wanted mangos to be involved somehow.
(Makes 4 servings)
- 1 teaspoon annatto seed (AKA achiote seed)
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 1/4 cups brown rice
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 3 garlic cloves, pressed
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped and cored
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 to 2 tablespoons cider vinegar (depending how much sourness you like)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
- 3/4 cup chopped celery
- 1 1/2 cups cooked brown pigeon peas*
1. In a saucepan, heat the annatto in the olive oil over low heat for about a minute, until the oil takes on the seeds’ dark orange color. Once colored, drain the oil through a strainer into a large pot and discard the seeds.
2. Add the rice, thyme and garlic to the oil in the large pot, and raise to medium-high heat. Stir for a few minutes to toast, then add the water and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat until it’s just high enough to remain at a simmer. Cover and simmer until rice is tender, about 45 minutes. This is slow food, people.
3. While the rice is cooking, throw all dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Taste to adjust seasonings and set aside.
4. When the rice is ready, pour into a large bowl, and toss with the dressing and vegetables
I enjoyed this dish warm, not hot, but it is supposed to be chilled. You can have it either way, of course. Yum!!!
*remember to soak your brown pigeon peas the night before, then cook them till tender before adding to the salad