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Put time into dinner now, and you can make it last forever -- or at least the whole week. Welcome to Halfway to Dinner, where we show you how to stretch your staples every which way.
I didn't grow up eating black-eyed peas on New Year's, or any time of year for that matter. I bought my first bag last summer, and the learning curve has been quick. In the American South, black-eyed peas are most often served with collard greens and ham, but due to their mild flavor, they fit well in a variety of dishes that need some extra bulk, protein or creaminess.
Here are five ways to enjoy black-eyed peas sans the traditional ham -- or any meat, for that matter. The simply cooked black-eyed peas in these vegetarian dishes play a supporting role to the other ingredients, complementing them rather than dominating the flavor profile. Let these ideas inspire you to cook up a pot of them not only for New Year's, but throughout the upcoming year.
Raw Kale Salad
Hoppin' John salad meets raw kale salad. Toss chopped kale, black-eyed peas, chopped roasted red pepper, blackened corn, red onion, toasted almond slivers and goat cheese in a zippy honey mustard vinaigrette. This hearty salad is a meal in itself.
Spaghetti Squash Tacos
For a fun spin on tacos, halve and roast a spaghetti squash, warm up some corn tortillas (or make them yourself), and top them with black-eyed peas, the roasted squash, flat-leaf parsley and salty feta cheese. Make them even better with a dollop of sour cream and a tiny dash of smoked paprika.
Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks is the inspiration for this satisfyingly crunchy, creamy and spicy salad. Mix together black-eyed peas, chopped celery, thinly sliced red onion and cilantro, then toss it in a lemony olive oil vinaigrette made with a dab of Dijon mustard, some minced garlic and a sprinkle of your favorite curry powder. You can leave out the curry powder for a more traditional bean salad; I love it either way.
Polenta with Black-Eyed Peas, Sweet Potatoes, and Collards
First, cook up some polenta with a swirl of goat cheese and butter, then carmelize tiny chunks of peeled sweet potato in olive oil. In a separate pan, sauté thinly sliced collard greens (ribs removed) in olive oil with a pinch of red pepper flakes until darker in color and fragrant. Pile your polenta high with warmed black-eyed peas, ample sweet potato, collard green ribbons and a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper. It's a bowl of Southern goodness.
Black-Eyed Pea Toast
This is my favorite of the bunch: humble toast topped with caramelized leeks, black-eyed peas, and herbed goat cheese. Just sauté sliced leeks in ample olive oil and a big pinch of sea salt. Once they're caramelized at the edges, add a couple cloves of minced garlic and some black-eyed peas, stirring until warmed through. Remove from heat, toast a piece of great whole grain bread, and spread it with goat cheese. Top with lots of the leek and pea mixture and an extra sprinkle of salt. This toast would make great company for some softly scrambled eggs, too.
Makes about 6 cups
2-3 cups black-eyed peas
2 stalks celery, halved crosswise
2 large carrots, halved crosswise
1 bay leaf (optional)
Sea salt, to taste
Photos by Cookie and Kate