Green Pigeon Pea Escabeche (Gandules en Escabeche)

green pigeon pea escabeche

A Holiday Tradition

Gandules – also known in the rest of the Caribbean as guandules or just peas – are the traditional Puerto Rican legume of the holiday season.  I dare you to go to a Christmas party in Puerto Rico without arroz con gandules.  These days, I might even extend that dare to Thanksgiving meals in the island.  The minute you taste the sofrito laced rice and peas, you know it’s Christmas or you are reminded of the season.

Green pigeon peas can be found either canned or frozen, with fresh peas being a little harder to come by.  I was extremely lucky a few years ago.  I had a co-worker that grew them on her backyard.  When the holiday season was around the corner, she would start taking orders for her cosecha, the harvest.  Although there are few things better dishes than arroz con gandules made with fresh peas,  the convenience of canned gandules cannot be denied, especially for recipes like this one.

green pigeon peas escabeche

Green Pigeon Pea Escabeche

The Quick Pickle

Escabeche is the name given to dishes in which fish or vegetables marinate in vinegar and vegetables over a period of time, and to the marinade itself.   Unlike ceviches, foods en escabeche are usually cooked and then steeped for flavor and for preservation.   In Puerto Rico, the most popular escabeche dishes are bananas,  yuca or cassava, and green pigeon peas.  Pickled cassava is traditionally a side dish.  The bananas go back and forth between the main meal and appetizers.  The peas are traditionally served as an appetizer, but I also like tossing them into lunch salads with other preserved vegetables like artichokes and hearts of palm.

For this version of the pea escabeche, I chose lighter flavors to brighten up the earthy taste of the gandules. The lemon peel and thyme are not traditional to Puerto Rican cooking, but I like how they balance the vinegar and bay.  One of my favorite lentil soup recipes has orange peel in it and I knew that citrus could also work with the peas.  I swapped the onions for milder shallots.

Green Pigeon Pea Escabeche - Gandulitos en Escabeche
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Pickled green pigeon peas are a popular appetizer in Puerto Rico year round, but are most frequently seen around the holidays. They can be ready for eating after sitting in the refrigerator for 6 hours but keep for at least two days.
Servings Prep Time
0 10minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25minutes 6hours
Servings Prep Time
0 10minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25minutes 6hours
Green Pigeon Pea Escabeche - Gandulitos en Escabeche
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Pickled green pigeon peas are a popular appetizer in Puerto Rico year round, but are most frequently seen around the holidays. They can be ready for eating after sitting in the refrigerator for 6 hours but keep for at least two days.
Servings Prep Time
0 10minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25minutes 6hours
Servings Prep Time
0 10minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25minutes 6hours
Ingredients
The Pickle
To Finish
Instructions
  1. In a large frying pan, add the olive oil. Warm the oil over low heat for about five minutes, and toss in the thyme, bay leaf, lemon peel and peppercorns. Add the shallots and garlic and let everything simmer in the oil for about 25 minutes. Set aside and let it cool for ten minutes.
  2. In a 6 cup non-reactive container, toss the green pigeon peas, vinegar, and salt. Add the oil with the shallots, garlic and spices and stir to combine. Store in the refrigerator for a minimum of six hours.
  3. Before serving, remove the peppercorns, bay leaf, thyme and lemon zest. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peas, shallots and garlic to a bowl or serving dish. Add the extra shallots and red pepper and mix until well incorporated.

Definitely not traditional, but some people enjoy these with nacho cheese tortilla chips. I like serving them with plantain chips, pork rinds or toasted pita triangles.

green pigeon pea escabeche

Gandules en Escabeche on Pork Rinds

Need more inspiration to celebrate the holidays Puerto Rican style?  Check out these other recipes:

Guineos en Escabeche – Pickled Green Bananas

Pernil – Roast Pork

Pastelon de Yuca – Cassava Pie

 

Risotto de Gandules – Green Pigeon Pea Risotto

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Author:Adriana

Adriana is a financial analyst by day, avid home cook in the evenings, and food blogger and runner in the strange hours between those two. When not in the kitchen concocting meals and stories to pass around, she is out looking for the next great bite (or the ingredients to make it at home), checking what's new at the market, or planning a trip around great food and wine.

2 Responses to “Green Pigeon Pea Escabeche (Gandules en Escabeche)”

  1. November 9, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

    Se ve súper. Tengo que probarlo con el thyme. Yo lo hago mucho para el trabajo y a los chicos de la oficina les encanta. Saludos!

  2. November 10, 2014 at 9:34 pm #

    What a wonderful holiday tradition! I hope I get to sample these marinated pigeon peas one day 🙂

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