Gandules con Bolitas de Plátano (Pigeon Peas With Plantain Dumplings)
Good cooks need good eaters, and preparing food for people I care about brings me tremendous joy. This dish is among those I’ve shared with others, and one that I share here in honor of my dear friend Liyna Anwar, who died a year ago. We were colleagues, and, because she was Muslim and ate strictly halal, I often brought her vegetarian dishes to sample. This was among her favorites: a deeply earthy dish that is sumptuous and nourishing. Green plantains are finely grated, mixed with simple spices, formed into balls with a spoon, and then dunked directly into simmering pigeon peas; the natural starch of the plantains sets up without added flour. Liyna once prepared this dish alongside me, delighting in the experience of forming the buoyant dumplings. The memory of her happiness blends now with my own memories of eating it.
- Serves: 8 persons
- 2tablespoons olive oil
- ¾cup sofrito
- 1pound home-cooked or canned gandules (pigeon peas), drained (about 5 to 6 cups); see Notes
- 8cups vegetable stock
- 2dried bay leaves
- 1teaspoon kosher salt
- 3very green plantains, peeled and soaked in cold water until ready to use (see Notes)
- 1teaspoon ground cumin
- 1teaspoon garlic powder
- ½teaspoon ground annatto or sweet paprika
- 1 ½teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
- Cooked white rice, for serving
- Sliced avocado, for serving
Step 1Prepare the gandules: Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high. Add sofrito and sauté 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and mixture darkens. Add gandules, vegetable stock, bay leaves and salt, and increase heat to high. Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Step 2While gandules are cooking, prepare the plantain dumplings: Grate or blend plantains in a food processor until smooth or shred them finely on a box grater. Put grated plantains in a medium bowl and add cumin, garlic powder, annatto and salt. Mix well with a fork to incorporate. The mixture will be thick and a little sticky, but the natural starch of the plantain will set up quickly.
Step 3Return the gandules to a rolling simmer. Standing over the pot, scoop out about 1 tablespoon of plantain masa and put directly into the pot. The dumplings will rise immediately to the top. Repeat with the remaining masa, careful to avoid putting fresh dumplings on top of others, until you’ve used up all of the plantain masa, stirring occasionally to prevent dumplings from sticking to one another.
Step 4Once all the plantain dumplings have been added, lower heat and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring gently a few times. Remove from heat, and adjust salt to taste. Serve as a soup, accompanied by white rice, with avocado slices on the side.