Cooking from Cans: Pigeon Peas and Coconut Rice

How often do you use the recipes on the boxes and cans in your pantry? I don’t do it very often. But as I was poking through my stash of canned beans, I noticed an appealing recipe on a can of coconut milk: Gungo (Pigeon) Peas and Rice. I had a can of pigeon peas; I obviously had the coconut milk; I had rice… so why not try it?!

In retrospect, choosing to make this rather heavy dish — which required 45 minutes on the stovetop (with me stirring and testing the rice frequently) and which is best eaten hot — on an 83˚F day was perhaps not my finest move. I blame my caffeine-addled brain; slightly jittery from too much cold brew and too few carbs, I clearly lacked some key critical thinking skills. No matter; a little sweat never hurt anyone. Anyway, this came together relatively easily in one pot and required minimal dishes  for preparation — just a cutting board, a can opener, and a measuring cup for the water/broth and the rice. The result? Not bad! Perhaps a little simplistic in flavor, but it’s probably because I had to make quite a few substitutions. Specifically, I:

  • Used brown rice in place of “Grace Rice,” which I can only assume is white rice.
  • Replaced the escallion (!) with a few rather anemic scallions I’ve been regrowing in water for a few weeks.
  • Opted for dry thyme rather than fresh, because I didn’t have fresh.
  • Used garlic-ginger paste rather than fresh garlic and ginger, because I was lazy.
  • Added a teaspoon of dried allspice rather than pimento berries (!).
  • Used a mysterious hot pepper (grown from seeds my dad bought in India!) rather than the Scotch bonnet.

So, yes. Given that rather extensive list of substitutions — most of which replaced flavorful fresh ingredients with, um, less flavorful and less fresh ingredients — it’s no surprised that my rice wasn’t terrifically flavorful! It was not bad at all, though, especially when I added some lime juice. (It was missing an acidic element, in my opinion!)

For the curious, the recipe is here. I also recommend scrolling through the Grace Foods produce list — I enjoyed seeing all the Jamaican and Caribbean favorites, especially this amusingly-named “Grace Food Drink.”

(If you’re curious, here’s the “chicken” broth I used (affiliate link!). Better than Bouillon is killer!)


5 thoughts on “Cooking from Cans: Pigeon Peas and Coconut Rice

  1. Oh, yes, I definitely try the recipes on cans and boxes! Often they aren’t vegan but can be veganized. The recipe I have on my blog for “Starving Student Black Beans and Rice” is adapted from the back of a package of store-brand long grain rice, and my “Vegan Pastina Pilaf” is adapted from the recipe on the back of a package of pastina. Both are among my favorite recipes of all time. I also fell in love with chia jam after trying the recipe on the back of the Bob’s Red Mill chia seeds. I’ve been working on adapting a recipe for minestrone on the back of a package of tubettini, and I want to try several other back-of-the-package recipes I’ve seen. I think those recipes are so underrated!


  2. Every so often I stumble on a vegan (or near vegan) recipe on packaging. Sometimes I avoid looking because I find it annoying when vegan foods/brands (like fake meats, non-dairy dairy products) have non-vegan recipes. And it feels a little like “WHHHY!?!” i get it, the market is expanding, but still. lol

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Every so often, I try and stretch my food budget by making something just from the cupboards, and rice and beans are just a match made in heaven. I can’t remember the last time I used pigeon peas though, so I need to go and make this!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Much respect to the recipes on packages, but I can count the number of times I’ve used them on one hand. Cupboard cooking is brilliant though and has saved me from many sparse meals. Maybe I should read the boxes and cans more often!

    Liked by 1 person

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