The last apartment I lived in was on a super cute street in Mid-City New Orleans. I had the best group of neighbors and our entire block would often hold impromptu cookouts on the weekends. One of my neighbors was from Trinidad and his jerk peas became something of a legend within the group because none of us could get enough of them. We’d hover around the pot until they were ready to eat, and then they’d be gone in the flash of an eye. He never gave me the recipe for those jerk peas (I don’t blame him), but I do know that the peas swam in a broth made of full fat coconut milk and a healthy dose of jerk seasoning. I’ll probably never be able to recreate those famous peas, but these Coconut Jerk Peas are about as close as I can get!
The one thing you want to be aware of, though, is that jerk seasoning varies a lot from brand to brand, so you’re best adding the seasoning according to your own taste buds. You can add some before the peas cook and then spice up the whole pot at the end with more, if needed. I included a photo of the brand I used, which I got at Whole Foods. They used to have jerk seasoning in the bulk spices department, but they no longer carried it, so I had to buy a jar. This spice blend contains a lot of ingredients and some items that I don’t keep on hand, so it’s just one of those blends that I find easier and more logical to buy pre-mixed. Of course, if you want to mix up your own spice blend, a quick Google search provides plenty of recipes.
The best part about these peas is that they are insanely simple. You can make these on Sunday afternoon while you’re relaxing or doing other chores, and you’ll have lunches ready for the week.
Coconut Jerk Peas with Pineapple Salsa
Coconut Jerk Peas with Pineapple Salsa
COCONUT JERK PEAS
- 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.13)
- 1 yellow onion ($0.32)
- 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
- 1 lb frozen black eyed peas or purple hull peas ($1.99)
- 1 cup water ($0.00)
- 1-2 Tbsp jerk seasoning* ($0.60)
- 14oz can coconut milk ($2.19)
- 1/4 tsp salt, or to taste ($0.02)
- 4 cups cooked rice ($0.75)
- 2 cups chopped pineapple** ($0.67)
- 1/4 red onion ($0.17)
- 1 lime ($0.34)
- 1/4 bunch cilantro ($0.21)
- 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste ($0.05)
- 2-3 green onions, sliced ($0.20)
- Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add both to a medium sauce pot with the olive oil and sauté over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the onions are soft and transparent.
- Add the peas to the pot along with the water and 1 Tbsp of jerk seasoning. Stir to combine. Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat to medium-high, and allow it to come to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to medium-low, and let it simmer for 15 minutes, or until the peas are very tender.
- While the peas are simmering, prepare the pineapple salsa. Chop the pineapple into very small pieces. Finely dice the red onion. Pull the cilantro leaves from their stems and give them a rough chop. Combine the pineapple, onion, cilantro, juice from half the lime, and salt in a bowl. Stir to combine, then taste, and adjust the lime or salt if needed. Set the salsa aside.
- Once the peas are very tender, turn the heat down to low, and add the coconut milk. Stir and heat through. Smash some of the peas against the side of the pot to help thicken the mixture. Taste the peas and add more jerk seasoning and salt until they are very well seasoned. You want the peas to be heavily seasoned because once they're poured over the plain rice, the seasoning will seem diluted.
- To serve, place a cup of cooked rice in a bowl and add about 1 cup of the jerk peas with the coconut broth. Top with 1/2 cup of pineapple salsa, and a sprinkle of sliced green onions. Enjoy!
Step by Step Photos
Before we begin, I just want to show you which type of jerk seasoning I used. All brands are different, so you’ll have to go by your own taste buds for this one. If you don’t have an international market near you that carries it, check Whole Foods, Cost Plus World Market, or perhaps The Fresh market.
These are the peas that I used, but you could also use purple hull peas. Frozen is definitely better than canned, but if you must use canned, make sure to drain them well before adding to the recipe.
Begin by dicing an onion and mincing 2 cloves of garlic. Add them to a medium sauce pot with 1 Tbsp olive oil and sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and transparent.
Add 1 lb. frozen peas (I did not thaw them first), 1 cup water, and 1 Tbsp of the jerk seasoning. The water will not fully cover the peas, but that’s okay. Stir to combine, then place a lid on the pot and turn the heat up to medium-high. Let the pot come to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
While the peas are simmering, prepare the pineapple salsa. Combine 2 cups finely chopped pineapple, 1/4 of a red onion (finely diced), and 1/4 bunch cilantro (roughly chopped) in a bowl, along with the juice from half a lime (about 1 Tbsp) and 1/2 tsp salt.
Stir to combine and then taste and adjust the lime or salt if desired.
Once the peas have simmered and are tender (test a pea or two to make sure), add a 14oz. can of full-fat coconut milk.
Stir everything to combine and heat through. Smash some of the peas against the side of the pot to help thicken the liquid. Taste the peas and add more jerk seasoning if needed and a bit of salt. You want the peas to be heavily seasoned because once you ladle them over the plain rice, that seasoning will seem somewhat diluted.
To serve, place a cup of cooked rice in a bowl and ladle the peas and coconut broth over top. Finish it off with about 1/2 cup of the pineapple salsa and a few sliced green onions.
I never get sick of “beans” and rice!