This recipe is a whole grain version of the classic Caribbean dish. Cooking the rice in the pea broth gives it color and flavor. Peas are cooked with whole garlic and a bouquet garni... with black peppercorns and whole cloves, which gives both the peas and their broth a spicy sweetness. You can also cook rice in the broth from black beans or kidney beans, as long as you cook the beans from dried. Check out our Easy Black Beans recipe to learn how to cook beans from scratch.
Put the peas into a saucepan with the whole garlic, bouquet garni, and water. Bring to a boil over a high heat. Partially cover the pan and lower heat to medium low. Cook until the peas are tender and look wrinkled, about 40 minutes to 1 hour.
Remove the bouquet garni and drain the peas over a large bowl. Reserve the pea broth. Set the peas and broth aside. This can be done ahead of time.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the rice and cook, stirring until it is well-coated in oil and is turning translucent around the edges. Add 2 cups of the reserved pea broth and 1 teaspoon of sea salt, and bring to a boil. Lay the spring of thyme over the rice, cover, and turn the heat down to low. Cook for 40 minutes or until the broth is absorbed and the rice is al dente.
While the rice is cooking, mince the remaining 2 cloves of garlic. Heat the remaining olive oil in a high-sided sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic. When it starts to turn golden, about 1 minute, add the onion and shallots. Sprinkle with the remaining salt and saute until they soften and start to color, about 5 minutes. Add the drained peas to the pan and cook until they start to get dry and crispy looking, about 5-8 minutes more. Add ½ the remaining pea broth and cook until evaporated and syrupy looking.
When the rice is ready, discard the thyme and mix together with the peas and shallots in a large bowl. Taste for seasoning and serve.
To make the bouquet garni: Take 2 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, a sprig of thyme, a bay leaf, ½ teaspoon black peppercorns, and 3 whole cloves, and tie together in cheesecloth.
The peas and broth can be cooked ahead of time and stored in the fridge or freezer until needed to cook the rice.
If you choose to use white rice, don’t add it to the peas in step 4. Cook it separately for 15 minutes, then instead of leaving it to steam in the pot, drain and add it to the peas just as they are just turning soft, about 25 minutes into cooking.