Asopao de Gandules (Pigeon Pea Rice Stew)
Asopao is one of my favorite meals to make: it comes together fairly quickly and it’s one of those dishes that you don’t necessarily have to babysit. Asopao is a soupy, rice stew often made with meat or legumes back home in Puerto Rico. I shared a shrimp asopao recipe when I first started blogging, but making it with pigeon peas is my second-favorite way to have it. And it’s easier when you’re on a budget and need to feed a lot of people.
For this recipe, I used dried pigeon peas but you can easily used canned for a quicker dinner. But, to be honest, if you’re able to get your hands on dried pigeon peas, make the effort to soak them and use them in the recipe, because the difference in flavor is absolutely outstanding.
I used my InstantPot to cook the gandules prior to putting them with the rice. I added one bag to the InstantPot with 8 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of fresh Simple Sofrito, and two smoked turkey necks. High pressure cook for 45 minutes with a natural release and I had perfectly tender pigeon peas with a little bite to them. Amazing.
If you don’t have an InstantPot or pressure cooker, simply follow the package directions to soak and cook the peas prior to using them. I’d recommend doing this the day before you plan on making the asopao since it does take some time. Let’s get cooking!
Asopao de Gandules
Cook time: 25 minutes (using cooked pigeon peas)
3 tbsp Simple Sofrito
2 packets Goya Sazón con Achiote
2 tbsp granulated garlic
2 cups jasmine rice
2 cups cooked pigeon peas, reserve the liquid from cooking*
4 cups pigeon pea liquid* or vegetable broth
3 cups water
*One bag of dried peas yield about 6 cups of cooked peas. You’re only going to need two for the recipe. They freeze very well and can be used another time. They’re great in soups, stewed up, or in salads.
In a large pot, add enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Over medium heat, sauté the sofrito until it’s fragrant, about 4 minutes. Then, add the sazón, a pinch of salt, black pepper, granulated garlic, and the cooked pigeon peas. Cook the peas and the spices until fragrant and all of the peas are well-coated. Then add the rice and stir well. Make sure that all the grains of rice are coated in the sofrito and seasoning and the pigeon peas are mixed in completely. Add the 4 cups of pigeon pea liquid and 3 cups of water and stir.
Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once at a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook on low until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. The stew should thicken up while the rice cooks and gets fluffy and should resemble a risotto, being nice and creamy. Serve immediately with tostones or maduros.