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Ayesha Curry, cookbook author, TV personality, and entrepreneur, certainly can wear a lot of hats. She launched the quarterly lifestyle magazine “Sweet July” this summer, founded the nonprofit Eat Learn Play with husband Steph Curry, and even boasts her own eponymous cookware and home goods line. But new to her busy life is her second cookbook, “The Full Plate,” the follow-up to her beloved debut, “The Seasoned Life.” 

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Here, Ayesha looks to her home kitchen for inspiration, showcasing how she cooks for her family. The 100 recipes included in the book are specifically designed to be on the table in less than an hour, geared toward busy families who still aim to eat healthfully.

“As a working mom with three young kids, I need recipes that are easy to make and come together quickly, but develop a ton of flavor,” Ayesha says. “From cover to cover, each recipe can seamlessly integrate into your weekly arsenal of recipes, no matter your kitchen skills or (lack of) time to get a delicious meal on the table.”

The Full Plate: Flavor-Filled, Easy Recipes for Families with No Time and a Lot to Do, $19.19 on Amazon

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Those aforementioned recipes include mushroom tacos drizzled with avocado crema; bucatini swirled with cherry tomatoes and crab; and maple-glazed bacon donuts. Recipes are divided up into a handful of sections, like sheet-pan dinners, pastas, hearty salads, healthy riffs on takeout favorites, and kid-friendly meals.

When brainstorming recipes for “The Full Plate,” Ayesha sought to include her family’s recipe for Jamaican-style rice and peas. Ayesha, whose mother is of Jamaican descent, explains that rice and peas are an indispensable staple in Jamaican cuisine, and she wanted to guarantee her recipe was not only authentic, but also true to the way her mother and aunts prepared the dish when she was growing up.

Ayesha Curry Home Collection Nonstick Sauce Pan/Saucepan with Lid, $23.99 on Amazon

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“Everyone has a slightly different variation on the seasoning, but my family recipe uses green onion, ginger, fresh thyme, and garlic, and then some heat from a Scotch bonnet chile that you drop in whole and remove before serving,” Ayesha says.

Jamaican-style rice and peas rely on just a few key players: the ingredients mentioned above, plus long-grain white rice, coconut milk, and dried pigeon peas or black-eyed peas. If you don’t have dried peas, canned will do in a pinch, but Ayesha recommends opting for dried if you have them on hand (just make sure to soak them in water the night before). The other—and arguably most important—tip from Ayesha is to simply leave the pot of rice and peas alone while it cooks.

“Once the rice goes in and the lid comes on, set your timer and walk away. Lifting the lid and letting the steam out means your rice can’t cook properly,” Ayesha says. “You’ve got to trust the process.”

The result is a fluffed-up, spiced pot of rice—the ideal side for Ayesha’s sheet pan pork chops or her easy citrus-glazed salmon. After one bite, you may never make a plain pot of rice again.

Excerpted from THE FULL PLATE. Copyright © 2020 by Ayesha Curry. Photographs by Eva Kolenko. Used with permission of Voracious, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company. New York, NY. All rights reserved.

Jamaican-Style Rice & Peas Recipe

This is a staple Jamaican recipe that I grew up eating and now make frequently for my own family. It’s traditionally made with either pigeon peas or kidney beans. Every cook seasons their pot of rice and peas according to their own tastes, but when I consulted my mother and aunts for their recipes, the consensus was that it should include green onions, ginger, and garlic, with some gentle heat from the addition of a Scotch bonnet chile that you drop in whole and remove before serving. This is a great side dish alongside jerk or simply grilled chicken.

Jamaican-Style Rice & Peas

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced 1 (15-ounce) can pigeon peas (or black-eyed peas), drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk, shaken
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 whole Scotch bonnet or habanero chile
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the green onions, ginger, and garlic and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Pour in the peas and water, then stir in the coconut milk. Drop in the thyme and the whole chile. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in the rice and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook for about 30 minutes, until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Uncover, remove and discard the chile and thyme sprigs, and fluff the rice with a fork. Serve.

Header image by Eva Kolenko.

Amy Schulman is an associate editor at Chowhound. She is decidedly pro-chocolate.
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