I come from a very large family (8 kids, 2 parents, always at least one dog, a handful of cats, 1 parakeet, and there was a guinea pig a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away), so the number of times we supped with people not related to us were few. I do not know how old I was at the time, but I feel like I was between the ages of five and eight (probably completely irrelevant to this story).
Our family was dining with another family at their house. I don’t know who this family was. I remember at the time not knowing who the family was, but they were probably from church is my best guess. I do remember they lived on a farm and we had a big time running around in the barn, where some older siblings were trying to convince me to jump out of the hayloft, and then we were called to supper.
To accommodate the sheer volume of bodies, they’d arranged a hodgepodge of tables in the foyer of their farmhouse with benches and tables and stools mismatched all the way around the perimeter. Whether or not my mother contributed any portion of this meal I have no recollection, because the only food I remember being placed on my plate (and told I had to eat) was what seemed an enormous scoop of black-eyed peas.
They were awful. They tasted like dry earth and chewing them with the intent to swallow was as near to torture as I had yet experienced in my lifetime. Obviously I survived the meal, else how could I now be here all these years later to tell you about it? But it did scar me for a very very long time.
I didn’t try black-eyed peas again until about three years ago, and fell in love with them because of that salad recipe, which is now one of my favorites to prepare every summer when the basil is fresh and abundant in my backyard garden, and cherry tomatoes are ripe for the picking. It just occurred to me that I’ve never posted the recipe for Tomato, Basil and Millet Salad, and I promise to do that as soon as the weather turns warmer.
Thanks to that very positive adult interaction with black-eyed peas, I am happy to incorporate them into other areas of my menu planning. Today’s recipe comes to us courtesy of the amazing Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and can be found in her cookbook, Appetite for Reduction.
This is such a flavorful dish, but the prep work is in the shredding of the greens. It just takes some time, so plan ahead and have everything chopped before you start cooking so it will all go together very quickly!
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 1 tsp
- Small Onion - diced small
- Garlic - 2 cloves, minced
- Kale or Collards - 1 bunch, rough stems removed, shredded (about 1/2 pound)
- Water - 1/4 cup
- Salt - 1/4 tsp
- Black-eyed Peas - 2 15oz cans, drained & rinsed
- Tomato Sauce - 1 cup
- Vegetable Broth - 1/2 cup
- Hot Sauce - 1 T (Tabasco or Texas Pete)
- Liquid Smoke or Smoke Paprika - 1/4 tsp
Preheat a 4 quart pot over medium heat. Saute the onion in the oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Use a little cooking spray if needed. Add the garlic and saute a minute more. Add the greens, 1/4 cup of water and salt. Cover the pot and cook the greens down for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add black eyed peas, tomato sauce and broth and thoroughly mix. Cover pot and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add hot sauce and liquid smoke, then use a potato masher to mash some of the beans, about 1/4 of them, to thicken the sauce. Cook for about 5 more minutes uncovered. Taste for salt and seasoning. You may want to add more hot sauce, I often do, but I err on the side of caution with recipes for spicy things. Serve hot. (As in hot off the stove, not spicy hot!)