Black Eyed Peas with Kale and Cornbread

I like black eyed peas.  When I first became a vegetarian I hated beans but they are something I’ve learned I like.  A lot.  Black eyed peas are related to cow peas which are native to Africa.  The black spot or “eye” is nothing more than a mutation.  Apparently, according to the Wikipedia entry, they mutate fairly easily. 

They are good luck to eat on New Years in the Southern US.  After Sherman’s March to The Sea the Union Soldiers took or ate all the available food.  They left black eyed peas and collards because they considered it feed for their animals.  Southerns had to learn to survive on black eyed peas and collards.  The collards represent money and the black eyed peas, because they swell while cooking, represent prosperity.  Even though it was a little late for my boyfriend, we had black eyed peas and kale (no collards at the store) last night.  I’m not posting the recipe for cornbread because I made Anna Thomas’s “Honey Sweetened Buttermilk Cornbread” from “The New Vegetarian Epicure”  Since I made up the recipe for black eyed peas (or univented it) I’ll leave it here for you to make on your own.

2 cups dried black eyed peas

1 onion chopped

1 green bell pepper chopped

3-4 cloves garlic

2 bay leaves

1 1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 chipotle peppers (I used canned w/adobo sauce) chopped

2 c vegetable broth

1 16 oz can fire roasted tomatoes

1 bunch kale

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 bunch kale

salt and pepper to taste

Splash of red wine vinegar

Method:

Soak the beans overnight in just enough water to cover.  In a small skillet heat the cumin until fragrant.  Add the oregano and paprika and mix quickly and grind in a spice grinder.  Dont do what I did and burn the oregano and paprika.  In a large pot heat some olive oil and add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper.  Saute for a few minutes.  Add the paprika/cumin mixture.  Saute for a few minutes more.  Add the chipotle peppers.  Saute a few minutes more.  Add the vegetable broth, can of tomatoes, and tomato paste.  Simmer until the beans are nearly tender.  Add the chopped kale.  Simmer until the kale is done and the beans are tender.

In no way do I claim these are traditional Southern black eyed peas.  They came out a little like black eyed pea chili.  Still, they were really good and my boyfriend liked them enough that they will be made again. 

This was just about the right amount for two people with just enough for 2 leftover servings.  So, if you’re feeding more than 2-3 people you might want to adjust accordingly.

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