Sunday, August 28, 2011

The possibilities of peas


I first made this with chick peas. I still like it with chick peas, but I recently started using blackeyed peas for a bunch of different things. They taste more interesting than most other types of beans, also, a) I don't use up a whole can of refried beans before they go bad and b) a can of most any type of beans costs about a buck, while a pound of dried peas costs about 75 cents. I can make as many or as few as I need, and I find they don't seem to need as long a cooking time as other dried beans- probably because they're very small, but probably also because I do pre-soak them. This used to bother me- it seemed like fiddly sort of thing to do. But then I realized that leaving them in a tupperware of water in the fridge over night, or the next night, and frequently the night after that until I decide that yes, today is the day I want them actually realizes a net reduction of fiddle. There are a couple things I've found that are good to do before you put them on the stove:

1. Shake them up and then rinse them well. Gets rid of more indigestible carbohydrates. Makes you more polite to your companions later.
2. Season them! Duh right? Not really. Cooking the seasonings in rather than cooking then seasoning makes a huge difference.

If I know I want to make refried beans with them, I put in salt, a bay leaf, pepper, cumin and a good shake each of onion and garlic powder. Yes, fresh is good, but this is refritos, people. You're just going to cook the bajeebus out of 'em, so it don't make a difference. Less fiddle! If I don't know what I'm going to do with them, I just add salt and a bay leaf. That's what I have in the picture here.

Along with the blackeyed peas, I have a tomato, some lentils (I like the kind called 'green french lentils' because they seem to hold their shape well), some kalamata olives, a few fresh mint leaves and some cumin, ground coriander seed, and a dash each of olive oil and the olive brine. I usually like to put in a yellow bell pepper for color, and if you want more green stuff, the recipe originally called for flat leaf parsley rather than mint, but I didn't have those things today. As I said, the first version of this had chickpeas in it, which make the salad taste nuttier. Blackeyed peas have a grassier taste which is rather nice with the coriander and mint.

But what else do I do with them? In the winter of course, I cook them with bacon. They are pretty tasty as an ingredient in other salads, and sometimes I get lazy and rather than bother to smash them into refried beans, I just sprinkle them on my nachos before they go under the broiler. I have a recipe for black bean and sweet corn fritters, which I want to use with blackeyed peas. They're good with migas, too.

Incidentally, does anybody know where I can get some pigeon peas?