Monday, February 28, 2011

Black-Eyed Peas

We have talked about many different kinds of beans and the ways to cook and use them but one that is often overlooked, especially in the northern part of the US is the black-eyed pea. Black Eyed Peas are really a bean and are also called cowpeas.

Dried black-eyed peas are a great item for your storage. Using dried beans instead of the canned, makes the nutrition levels higher. Canned beans have 11 g of protein per cup, while the same amount of dried beans has 13 g. If you consume 1 cup of black-eyed beans, you will get roughly 25 percent of your protein requirement for the day. Just as important as total protein is the quality of the protein. Black-eyed peas contain all the essential amino acids or protein building blocks for your body. Canned beans contain 8 g of fiber, while cooked dried beans have 11 g of fiber per cup. This is even more important as we get older. Black-eyed peas contain 90 percent of your daily value of folate.

The major difference between canned and dried beans exists in the sodium content. Canned foods require a lot of salt to preserve the food. Specifically, canned black-eyed beans contain 718 mg sodium, while cooked dried beans only have 7 mg per cup. The average adult should consume 1,200 mg of sodium per day. That means if you eat one cup of black-eyed beans from a can, you are consuming 60 percent of the suggested daily intake. Consume nutritious black-eyed beans from a dried source rather than from a can to avoid high intake of sodium.

In the Southern United States, it's traditional to eat black-eyed peas or cowpeas in a dish called hoppin' john. It is often believed that you should always eat these beans at the start of a new year to bring good luck. There are even those who believe in eating one pea for every day in the New Year. This all traces back to the legend that during the Civil War, the town of Vicksburg, Mississippi, ran out of food while under attack. The residents fortunately discovered black-eyed peas and the legume was thereafter considered lucky.

I’m a little late with the New Years ideas but I figure after the storm of last weekend we could all use a little good luck. Maybe eating these beans will bring us good luck and spring will come soon.

There are lots of great recipes using these beans and they are a fun addition to your food storage for a little variety. Here are some recipes using Black-Eyed Peas. There are a couple of different salsa-type recipes, each with a different twist. The first has some crunchiness because of the celery, cucumbers and peppers. You can adjust the jalapeño to fit your family’s tastes. The second uses hominy which has always been a fascination to me. We used to buy it for a fun snack occasionally, served with butter and salt. I’ve never had it in a dip before but your might like the different texture it adds to this one. If your family likes to dip, give these a try. Feel free to substitute the canned beans for cooked dried beans.

Black Eyed Pea Salsa
½ c. olive oil
1/3 c. white wine or cider vinegar
2-3 T. sugar
1 t. celery seed
½ t. dry mustard
½ t. salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
3 stalks Celery finely diced
3 stalks green onions, sliced
1 whole red bell pepper, diced fine
1 whole cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 whole Jalapeño seeded and diced fine, optional
1 c. chopped cilantro
2 cans Black-eyed peas, drained
Mix 1st 7 ingredients. Set aside. Combine all vegetables except cilantro with peas. Pour dressing over the top and gently stir together. Add cilantro and stir gently. Cover and chill at least 1 hour. Serve with chips.

Cowboy Caviar
Sweet basil
1 Green, red or yellow pepper (if you double the recipe just use all three)
1 Can white corn or Hominy (doubled I use both)
1 Can diced Italian or Mexican style tomatoes
1 Purple Onion, diced
1 Can black-eyed Peas, drained and rinsed
1 Can Black Beans
1 Can Black Olives, sliced
1 8 oz Bottle Italian Dressing
Salt and Pepper to taste
½ Small Can Diced Green Chiles
1 t. Cumin
1 Avocado, diced
½ Bunch Cilantro
Mix everything, but the avocado and cilantro and let sit a few hours or overnight. Before serving add avocado and cilantro and serve with chips. It's delicious for eggs rancheros etc too!

I found the following recipe for black-eyed pea cakes with comeback sauce several months ago here and fully intended to make it for New Years (thought the good luck thing was fun) but we had too many leftovers and were leaving for a few days on New Year’s Eve so I didn’t get to it until a month or so ago. I thought it was a fun and tasty recipe. Serve me anything with a sauce and I’m all over it, especially when there is heavy cream involved. I was very careful with the spices in the sauce but I really liked this dish and will make it again. It is definitely a fun way to use the black-eyed peas which were new to me. Next time, I will definitely use dried black-eyed peas instead of canned.

Black-Eyed Pea Cakes
(Y: 8-12 depending on size)
2 cans of black-eyed peas; drained
1 slice bacon; fried and crumbled
4-8 T. olive oil; divided
½ c. onion; chopped
4 cloves garlic; minced
½ t. cumin
1 T. fresh cilantro leaves
½ t. dried basil leaves
½ t. cayenne
1½ t. salt
½ c. heavy cream
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 egg
1/3 c. half & half
2 c. panko or fresh bread crumbs
Warm the black-eyed peas, while you prep the other ingredients. Sauté onion and garlic together in about 2 T. olive oil until softened. Add half of the black-eyed peas (about 1½ c.), bacon, onion, garlic, cilantro, basil, cumin, cayenne, salt to a food processor and pulse a few times until blended. Not too much. It doesn’t need to be totally smooth.
Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in the remaining black-eyed peas and heavy cream. Chill the mixture until cool – about an hour or so. After the mixture has cooled, gently form the cakes and set aside. Prepare 3 separate bowls for battering. Flour goes in the first one. Then beat an egg and the half and half together in the second one. And the bread crumbs go in the third one. Batter the cakes by coating first with flour, then the egg mixture and finish with the bread crumbs. Set aside after coated. Have a plate or cooling rack lined with paper towels ready for cakes when cooked. Prepare skillet by heating 3-4 T. of olive oil over medium heat. Fry cakes in small batches, cooking approximately 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Be sure to watch the oil for overheating, and, if needed, add additional oil or start with new oil if it gets too dark. Remove cakes, let cool on paper towel lined plate. Serve with comeback sauce (below).
Comeback Sauce
(Other than mayonnaise and oil, we didn’t measure any of the ingredients, so combine to your taste preference.)
½ c. mayonnaise
1/8 c. salad oil (I used walnut oil)
Black pepper
Celery salt
Hot sauce
Worcestershire sauce
Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate until served.

Below is a traditional recipe for Hoppin’ John if you have never tried it. It is full of flavor and a fun New Years Tradition. However, it is great served anytime

Hoppin’ John
1½ c. dry black-eyed peas
1 lb. ham hock
1 onion, chopped
1-3 garlic cloves, finely diced
½ green bell pepper, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
½ t. crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 t. ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
4 c. water
1 ½ c. long-grain white rice
1 can petite diced tomatoes with chili peppers (optional)
1 cup shredded smoked Cheddar cheese
In a large pan place the peas, ham hock, onion, garlic, green pepper, celery, red pepper, cumin, salt and pepper. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 1½ hours. Remove ham hock and cut meat into pieces. Return meat to pot. Add tomatoes. Stir in the rice, cover and cook until rice is tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle sliced green onion and shredded cheese over top of individual servings, if desired.

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