Bean

Vegan Black-Eyed Pea Beignets with Warm Spiced Sugar & Green Tomato Jam

December  2, 2021
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Photo by Oriana Koren
Author Notes

Black-eyed peas are one of the most well-traveled legumes. They’ve made appearances in Brazil and Africa, but their most storied landing was in the southern part of America. I imagine that it was in some church basement in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, where my foremother first encountered them. I came to love them at seven years old, when my grandmother braised them with smoked turkey and onion, then poured them, piping hot, over some sweet cornbread. Since then, I’ve been fascinated with the ways that people of the diaspora have transformed the black-eyed pea. One of the most popular applications is in the black-eyed pea fritter, also known as accara or accarajé, which are Yoruba in origin but enjoyed worldwide.

This recipe is my adaptation of the accara, passed down to me with the southern influence from my ancestors. It’s my way of reconciliation on a plate; although I may never know by name my African ancestors, their stories live on through me and in my cooking.
Elle Simone Scott

Test Kitchen Notes

Reprinted with permission from BLACK FOOD: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora edited by Bryant Terry, copyright © 2021. Published by 4 Color Books, an imprint of Ten Speed Press and Penguin Random House. Photographs copyright © 2021 Oriana Koren. —The Editors

  • Prep time 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Cook time 3 hours 30 minutes
  • makes makes 20 to 24 beignets
Ingredients
  • Black-Eyed Pea Mixture
  • 3/4 cup black-eyed peas, soaked overnight or follow “quick-soak” method on page 185
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small to medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Green Tomato Jam
  • 3 pounds green tomatoes, unpeeled, chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons), plus more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper, ground cardamom, or pimento (optional)
  • Warm Spiced Sugar
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (black cardamom, if you can find it)
  • Dough
  • 3/4 cup nondairy milk (I use barista blend oat milk, which is richer)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil plus 4 quarts for frying
  • 2 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. To make the black-eyed pea mixture: Soak the peas overnight or quickly soak them by bringing water to a boil, then shutting off the heat and soaking them for 2 hours (this results in about 2 cups of soaked peas).
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat, then add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent. Add the soaked peas, bay leaf, spices, salt, broth, and pepper and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 2½ hours, until the peas are tender. Remove the cover for the remaining 30 minutes to reduce the broth.
  3. While still hot, remove ½ cup of the peas and pulse in a food processor or use an immersion blender or the back of a fork in a bowl to mix until smooth. Add ¼ cup of the cooking liquid to the bowl and strain in the remaining 1½ cups whole peas. Set aside to cool.
  4. To make the jam: In a large, wide pot, combine the tomatoes, sugar, lemon juice, and spices, if using, and bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the sugar melts, about 10 minutes. The mixture will begin to foam; stir as needed to avoid burning while still allowing the mixture to reduce and thicken for about another 15 minutes. Stir occasionally and taste for tartness, adding more lemon juice, if desired. The mixture will begin to look glossy and gel as it reduces. Turn down the heat to low and use a spoon to test the texture by letting it cool on a spoon like a nape. If it doesn’t thicken on the spoon, stir and let it cook for another 5 minutes and try again.
  5. Push the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve or leave the tomato skins/seeds for a more textured jam. Cool and use immediately or can the jam. Jam can also be stored in the fridge for up to 14 days in an airtight container.
  6. To make the spiced sugar: in a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients and set aside.
  7. To make the dough: in a microwave, warm the milk to body temperature in a large microwave-safe bowl (30 to 60 seconds), then add the yeast, sugar, and 2 tablespoons oil and whisk for 30 seconds; let rest for 10 minutes. in a large bowl, mix the flour and salt.
  8. Whisk or stir half of the flour into the yeast. Add half of the cooled black-eyed pea mixture and blend. Add the remaining flour and stir until it is combined and you can no longer use the spoon or whisk. Add the remaining black-eyed pea mixture.
  9. Knead the mixture with your hands until the flour is absorbed. The mixture should be tacky and moist but not sticky. It should absorb all the flour in the bowl and form a smooth ball.
  10. Lightly grease a bowl and the dough with oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest overnight in the fridge.
  11. The next morning, remove the dough from the fridge, punch down, and knead for 5 minutes with lightly floured hands. The dough shouldn’t dry out in the process but should retain its moist, springy texture. Let rest again for 30 minutes. (I like to knead for 5 minutes, press it into a rectangle, then a trifold, and finally press down to seal. This creates some folds in the final product and gives a headstart to the rectangle shape.)
  12. Once the dough has rested, roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Cut into 2½-inch squares. While giving the dough its final rest (10 to 15 minutes), heat the oil to 350°F in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot. You’ll need a candy thermometer to check the temperature.
  13. Gently drop the squares into the hot oil and cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side or until golden brown. (They will not get as dark as nonvegan beignets.)
  14. Remove the beignets from the oil onto paper towels.
  15. To serve: While the beignets are still warm, sprinkle with the spiced sugar and serve with a dollop of jam. Eat (almost) immediately.

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