Side Dishes

Rice and Peas

Rice and Peas is the quintessential side dish that adorns almost every meal that Jamaicans prepare. No Sunday dinner or family feast is ever complete without this delectable concoction of rice, peas, an array of spices, simmered in coconut milk. It is also a favorite of many vegans as a standalone meal.


3/4 cup dried red kidney beans, presoaked

3/4¾ cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 1/2 cup warm water

2 stalks scallion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

1 sprig fresh thyme, 2 tsp dried

1 tsp ground allspice

1 whole scotch bonnet or habanero pepper, uncut

Salt, to taste

2 cups long grain rice (optional Jasmine)



Cook the dried beans until soft (can be done the day before and refrigerated)

In a pot suitable for cooking rice, add kidney beans coconut milk, 1 cup water, scallion, garlic, allspice.

Cover pot and bring mixture to a boil on high heat, stirring occasionally

Add rice, thyme, pepper, and salt to taste

Decrease the heat to low and continue cooking for 15 minutes or until the liquid is reduced and has a deep reddish-brown color. Tip: Use a fork to fluff the contents occasionally and add small portions of the remaining water until rice is tender. Remember that you can always add more water, but you can't remove it.


Fried Ripe Plantains

Fried ripe plantains have a crispy, caramelized texture and irresistibly sweet taste. It is a ubiquitous Caribbean dish that is served with almost every meal, and it is enjoyed in other parts of the world as well. This is a quick and easy recipe that is sure to bring the taste of the Caribbean to your palate.

They are a member of the banana family but unlike a banana, plantains are starchy and need to be cooked before eating. As they ripen, the starches are converted to natural sugars, resulting in a sweeter taste. Frying a fully ripe plantain quickly in oil brings the sugar to the surface where it is caramelized. This creates a delicious chip that is simultaneously crisp and sweet. After the first taste, you will realize why this is one of the best ways to eat plantain. A ripe plantain's skin should have a dull yellow color with patches of black. In addition to being sweeter, it peels easily and cooks in no time. Serve  as a side dish or snack.


2 ripe plantains

3 tablespoons frying oil (canola or vegetable oil)

Kosher salt (optional)


Peel plantains by cutting off both ends, and cutting a slit down the length of plantain and remove skin

Slice diagonally the peeled plantains into 1/4-inch-thick portions

Place skillet on medium heat and add oil

After oil is hot, add plantain slices in skillet and fry for 1 minute on either side until caramelized

Remove slices and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Lightly sprinkle with Kosher salt (optional)


Mango Salsa

This simple and colorful mango salsa is super easy to make and very versatile. You will find it to be sweet, spicy and pair very well with Jerk meats and seafood. Recipe yields about 3 cups salsa.



3 ripe mangos, diced

1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

1/2 Scotch Bonnet or habanero pepper, veins removed, seeded, and minced (optional)

1 large lime, squeezed

Pinch of salt, to taste



In a serving bowl, combine the prepared mango, bell pepper, onion, cilantro, and Scotch Bonnet. Drizzle with lime juice of one lime.

Using a large fork, stir the ingredients together and season to taste with salt. Let the salsa rest for 10 minutes or longer before serving.

Grilled Pineapple Salsa


Fresh pineapple - peeled, cored, and sliced into ½ rings

1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

Finely chopped cilantro (about 1 cup)

1 cup red onion, finely chopped

2-3 habanero pepper, seeded and finely chopped (about ½ cup or more to taste)

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper



Preheat grill for medium heat and lightly oil the grate.

Cook pineapple on the grill until lightly browned and caramelized, (2 minutes each side)

Remove pineapple from grill and cool, then chop in ½ inch cubes.

In a large bowl, combine pineapple, bell pepper, cilantro, red onion, and habaneros. Add lime juice and toss to coat.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow flavors to blend at room temperature for 30 minutes, or chill until serving time.