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Black-Eyed-Pea Salad

I’m on a bit of a Southern-cooking streak. My wife, Sarah, took it to be an homage to her and the food she grew up on in Louisiana. Really, it was just the theme of the September issue of Food & Wine. Sorry, Sarah, the secret is out.

The streak started with pan-roasting okra—something we almost never eat—since our farmer friends had oodles of it and it looked so good. Then we had company for dinner, and I did a lightened take on shrimp and grits, pickled beets, spinach salad with cornbread croutons and a plum nectarine crisp. I wish I had taken photos, but cooking that much was enough of a feat for a weekday night.

So, when the next night came and we had no leftovers, it was back to the kitchen to make this super-light Black-Eyed-Pea Salad. It, too, came from Food & Wine and, I, too tired from the night before, followed the recipe to the letter. The only addition was a side of black pepper cornbread from the night before.

I was a tad skeptical that the peas would cook in time, as the directions on the bag said it would take twice as long as the recipe claimed. And, I didn’t soak them first. But there was no need to worry. Apparently, they come out just fine without soaking, which is sometimes just too much to plan.

So cook the peas, roast the peppers, blanch the celery and mix everything together. With a few slices of those last-of-summer tomatoes underneath, it makes for a very pleasant, Southern meal, y’all.

Black-Eyed-Pea Salad

From Food & Wine, September 2010

1 cup dried black-eyed peas
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 red bell pepper
2 large celery ribs, cut into ¼-inch dice
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 teaspoons cider vinegar
4 large scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
Tabasco Sauce to taste

1. Cover the black-eyed peas with water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until tender, about 45 minutes. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in skillet. Add the onion, season with salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

3. Roast the bell pepper directly over a gas flame or under the broiler, turning until charred. Let cool. Peel and seed the bell pepper; cut into ¼-inch dice.

4. In a saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the diced celery for 30 seconds. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again.

5. Add the mayonnaise and vinegar to the onion. Fold in the black-eyed peas, bell pepper, celery and scallions; season with salt, pepper and Tabasco. Chill before serving.

Serve with sliced tomatoes. Serves 4.

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