As far as Jamaicans are concerned, rice and peas actually means rice and beans. I did some research today on rice and peas and finally settled on a recipe from the eatjamaican.com site. A lot of the recipes started with dried beans, soaked overnight and cooked before using in a recipe. A lot of them had coconut milk, rice, onion, garlic and a scotch bonnet pepper. I found a recipe that seemed to be somewhat traditional but actually used canned beans and that was the winner for me.
The other part of dinner tonight was the rainbow chard that I first steamed and then sauteed in some olive oil, with garlic, ground cumin, and grated fresh ginger. The greens were finished with a sprinkle of fresh lemon juice and salt.
Both of these dishes turned out fine, but they were nothing special. The rice and peas definitely needed salt and pepper (those simple seasonings would have greatly helped the dish). The greens were good, but you knew you were eating something good for you. Don't get me wrong; I have nothing against eating foods that are good for you, but I don't like to feel like that is the only reason I'm eating them. I'll try another recipe next time.
Simple Rice and Peas (serves 4-5)
Adapted from eatjamaican.com
1 16 ounce can red kidney beans
1 15 ounce can coconut milk (I used lite)
2 cups rice
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon oil
1 habanero pepper, (whole, do not chop up)
Drain the liquid from the can of beans into a measuring cup and add the can of coconut milk and enough water to make four cups of liquid. Place liquids in a pot with beans, onions, garlic, thyme and oil, bring to a boil. Add rice and stir for a minute. Reduce heat to medium-low. Place habanero on top of liquid and cover tightly for 30 minutes or until rice is cooked. Remove habanero before serving.