A large bag of black-eyed peas showed up in our CSA share this week. We are not so good at using dried peas and beans, but I decided to look for a recipe we might like. I settled on the equivalent of a black-eyed pea salad.
I soaked the peas overnight, guessing at what a pound of peas might be since they came in an unmarked plastic bag. The recipe was actually quite simple, requiring me to simmer the peas until tender and then toss with some other ingredients.
As we sat down to dinner, my husband questioned whether these legumes were actually peas or beans. I voted for peas, but resolved to query Google after dinner as I once did to find out how lentils grow. (Interestingly not a day goes by that I don’t get a hit on my post from someone wondering how lentils grow.)
It turns out black-eyed peas are a member of the cowpea family, commonly grown around the world. They have long been a staple of West African cooking and are associated with the south in this country. They grow on a low bush, much as lentils do. The peas form in long skinny pods.
The salad was delicious and will probably be even better tomorrow when the flavors are more pronounced. Here is the recipe in case you ever find yourself with a bag of black-eyed peas:
yield: Serves 8
1 pound dried black-eyed peas, picked over
2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat (Use olive oil if this grosses you out!)
1 small onion, peeled
Pickled black-eyed peas
1 recipe black-eyed peas, or three 16-ounce cans, rinsed and drained
1/2 small green bell pepper, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 small red bell pepper, minced (about 1/2 cup)
4 scallions including green parts, sliced thin
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon minced seeded habanero or other fresh hot chili, or to taste
In a bowl combine black-eyed peas with water to cover and let stand overnight.
Drain peas and in a 4-quart saucepan, combine with water to cover by 2 inches. Add bacon fat and onion. Simmer mixture, covered, 30 to 40 minutes, or until peas are tender, and drain well, discarding onion.
In a bowl, combine all ingredients with salt and pepper to taste and toss well. Chill mixture, covered, for at least 5 hours and up to 2 days.
Serve black-eyed peas chilled or at room temperature.