Bahamian Peas & Rice

Bahamian Peas & Rice, a staple in most homes and restaurants, is made with the unlikely combination of rice, black eyed peas, tomatoes, tomato sauce and bacon or ham. This dish is delicious served with any Caribbean meat or vegetable dish.

I first fell in love with this dish during a brief stay in Coconut Grove, FL. Bahamians have inhabited Coconut Grove since the 1880’s when Bahamian hotel laborers established the city’s first black settlement.  The city of Miami has hosted an  Annual Goombay Festival, a traditional Bahamian festival,  for almost 40 years now.  Travel just beyond I-95 to the south end of Coconut Grove and you will find a few authentic Bahamian restaurants featuring dishes like Peas & Rice, Fried Conch and Souse.

Bahamian Rice & Peas

1Tablespoon olive oil
½ cup chopped ham or cooked bacon.
1 large onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced, optional
1 large tomato, diced
2 teaspoons sugar
3 ounces (about ¼ cup) tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
1 (15 ounce) can pigeon peas or black-eyed with liquid
1½ cups water
1 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice

 

In a large heavy saucepan, heat oil over medium high heat. Place ham in the saucepan, and cook until it begins to brown. Stir in onion and celery. Cook about 5 minutes. Mix in tomato, tomato paste, and sugar. Add salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium- low, and continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Add peas, water and rice to pan. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook about 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Fluff rice with a fork.

VEGETARIAN
To make vegetarian version of this dish. Omit bacon and add ¼ cup rough cut bread crumbs, ¼ cup parmesan cheese and ½ teaspoon paprika. Add ingredients when the tomato is added to the pan.

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