You’ll find this dish on the dinner plates of Puerto Rican and other Latin American families several times a week. I’ve had the opportunity to taste several family recipes, and each was a little bit different. The vegetarians I know from Latino households have all practically lived on this dish at one point in their lives. I did too, when I stayed with such a family, and lost about five pounds that month! This is my own healthy vegan version that has plenty of bite and uses ingredients you can find easily. Serve it with fried plantains and a salad and you’ve got a meal!
Yield: 8 servings
2 cups rice of your choice
2 cups water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 can (15 ounces) gandules or equivalent soaked and cooked tender gandules
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
5 olives stuffed with pimiento, chopped
1/4-1/2 hot pepper (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic
Prepare the rice according to the package directions, using 3/4 teaspoon salt.
To prepare the gandules, drain the gandules and cook them with the tomato paste and water in a medium sauté pan over medium heat, for 10 minutes or until tender. If you are using gandules that you soaked and cooked yourself, you will need to add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Set the mixture aside after it is cooked and do not wash the pan.
To make the sofrito, use the same pan in which you prepared the gandules. Sauté the onion, olives and hot pepper if you are using it for 5 minutes, on medium heat. Add the garlic and cook the mixture for another 2 minutes, then remove it from the heat. Process the mixture in a blender or food processor.
Add the gandules mixture and the sofrito to the rice and gently fold it in until combined.