Naihomy’s Dominican Moro de Guandules or Pigeon Peas & Rice, Flipped to Healthy

Moro de Gandules Dominican

When moro de guandules or rice with pigeon peas was being cooked in her family’s kitchen, Naihomy Jerez of Bronx, New York knew one thing for sure. A celebration was going to be happening in their house, Dominican-style. Here is how she remembers it and the recipe she worked up to flip or healthy up her mother’s family-famous recipe for rice with guandules.

Whether it was a holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas, or someone’s birthday. Mami would make moro rojo or negro any day of the week, but moro de guandules was always reserved for a special occasion.

What were you doing during summer breaks from school as a pre-teen? Me? I was learning how to make moro de guandules, of course! Mami spent a whole summer teaching me how to cook, and I enjoyed it. I always loved food—unless you ask her about my toddler years, sorry, Mami!—but cooking did not connect with me until, well … the last few years.

At the same time, I also became acutely aware of how important food is to maintain our health and wellness and launched my own business, a food guidance and wellness program for women. I guide clients through a sustainable, healthy and delicious lifestyle shift so they can make mindful choices about the foods they love. I find this message really connects with my Latina clients. Yes, you can still eat rice and beans: Just make a couple healthy tweaks to your favorite recipes (like I do in this super-saludable lentil soup) — and you’re good to go.

This was exactly my approach when flipping my mother’s moro recipe. I blended tradition with mindful food choices to update her festive dish and make sure it was still tasty and better for our health. For this recipe, I replaced the white rice with a whole-grain option: brown rice. I also removed the packaged seasoning in Mami’s recipe and seasoned the moro with fresh vegetables, spices and dried herbs. It still has all of the familiar flavors and rarely does anyone notice anything has changed.

So, are you going to try it? Buen provecho!

For more of Naihomy’s delicious food flips on traditional Latino dishes, check out her healthy takes on arepitas de yuca, arroz con pollo, vegan coquito, and this lighter margarita.

How to make Dominican Moro de Guandules

Dominican Moro de Guandules or Pigeon Peas

Recipe by Naihomy Jerez
3.7 from 30 votes
Cuisine: Dominican




  • 2 cups brown rice

  • 2 Tbsp green pepper

  • 2 Tbsp red pepper

  • 2 Tbsp red onion

  • 2 Tbsp. cilantro

  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano

  • 2 Tbsp white vinegar

  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste

  • 1 can guandules or pigeon peas

  • 2 cups water


  • Measure the brown rice and set aside.
  • Finely chop the vegetables: green pepper, red pepper, red onion, cilantro, garlic.
  • Put a heavy pot or dutch oven on the stovetop, the burner set to medium heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil is warm, add all of the vegetables and stir together.
  • Add the spices (salt, black pepper, dried oregano) and then the white vinegar and tomato paste. Stir again, repeating every so often, until the vegetables start to soften and become translucent.
  • Add the guandules or pigeon peas with the can’s liquid. Stir the mixture together and add the 2 cups of water.
  • While waiting for the mixture to come to a boil, give the rice you set aside a good rinse (a mesh strainer works well for this) and then add to the pot.
  • Stir all the ingredients together occasionally as the rice mixture comes to a boil again. Stir as it continues to gently boil. Observe the water level in the pot, once it starts to reduce. When the water starts to boil through the rice and little holes begin to appear, it is almost time to cover the pot. Once you see bubbling holes in the middle and towards the outer edge of the rice mixture, cover the pot and lower the heat to a simmer.
  • Cook on simmer, with the pot covered, for 40 minutes. Lift the lid and turn over the rice. Make sure you grab all the rice from the bottom and flip it, so the rice that was on top is now near the bottom.
  • Cover the pot again for 10 minutes. Lift the lid and with a large spoon or spatula, stir and mix the rice one last time. Enjoy!


  • Depending on the pot you use, the brown rice can sometimes take longer to soften. Sample the rice towards the end to see if it has softened all the way through. If it hasn’t, try adding a little more water and covering the pot for another 10 to 15 minutes for the rice to cook thoroughly.
  • Try to not let the water in the pot dry up too much before placing the lid the first time. You should still be able to skim water of the top of the rice before covering it.
  • If you are short on time and can plan ahead, try soaking the brown rice in water for about 2 hours. It will cut down on the cooking time.

Photos: Naihomy Jerez

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