Rice and gandules, arroz y gandules, rice and pigeon peas -- however you say it, this is how to make it! This fragrant dish is a staple of Puerto Rican cuisine and like many other tomato-based dishes, probably tastes better the day after it's made.
Place medium-sized pot on the stove over a high heat. Add just enough oil to the pot to cover the bottom. Add 1 packet of sazon and stir until it dissolves.
Spoon 4 tablespoons of sofrito into the pot. Add 1/2 can of tomato sauce,1/2 can of of gandules and 1/4 cup of minced olives. Mix together well, being careful not to break the gandules.
Add 2 cups of rice to the pot. Mix all the ingredients well, making sure the rice is coated well with the oily sauce. Cook the rice until it becomes a bit translucent, which takes about 2 or 3 minutes.
Add 3 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil, stirring occasionally. Allow the water to boil down to the level of the rice. Reduce the heat to a simmer at this point, give the rice a good stir and cover the pot.
Simmer the rice and gandules, covered, for 20 minutes. Leave the pot alone while it cooks; do not remove the lid or stir the rice.
After 20 minutes, turn off the heat. Let the rice sit in its covered pot for another five minutes, then serve.
Add 1/4 cup of diced ham for a non-vegetarian version.