Gentle Readers, as The Practical Cook is both deeply Southern and a former vegetarian, she has divided feelings on the cooked vegetable scene here. I adore traditional food, cooked with pork, hailing from a time when any and all calories were necessary and good. Black-eyed peas are homey and comforting, the dal of the South. But not everyone loves the pig, and the all porky vegetable meal can be overwhelming.
So what’s a cook to do? Try this simple, healthier swap. As mentioned yesterday, a Parmesan rind can do amazing things.
Vegetarian Down-Home Black-Eyed Peas, Or Move Over Porky
This recipe is inspired by Bill Smith’s recipe for black-eyed peas, found in Seasoned in the South. His recipe is my go-to, and his cookbook invaluable for method and reassurance in the kitchen. It’s a great read, too.
1 lb black-eyed peas
a flavorful olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and cubed (not too small, or it will cook to mush)
3 or 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
freshly ground black pepper to taste (don’t hold back here, flavor is good)
1 teaspoon dried thyme (don’t hold back here, either)
1 Parmesan rind
salt to taste
1. Rinse, drain, and inspect your peas. Toss any gnarly ones, remove any dirt, rocks, etc. Set peas aside.
2. Meanwhile, heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add onion, carrot, and garlic, and saute until onion is soft, about 5 or 6 minutes.
3. Add peas and water to cover them by 2 or 3 inches. Add the pepper flakes, black pepper, thyme, and Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil, covered (do not walk off unless you want a pea-splosion on your hands), and then simmer on medium heat for 1 hour or more. If they’re rock hard, like the sorry grocery store ones I used, keep cooking.
4. Uncover and cook for 30 minutes more, or to preferred softness. If they run dry, add water. If you want them drier, keep cooking and reducing them. When they are just tender, season with salt.
Serve warm, with cornbread or over rice. These black-eyed peas are flavorful, interesting, and pretty to look at.
Are you a black-eyed pea fan? Share your comments below, or Tweet! Still trying to determine if they’re luck or money, but they’re tasty regardless.
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Tomorrow, Slow Down, You Chew Too Fast (You’ve Got to Make the Good Food Last).