Beans & Greens Marry in Simple Ceremony
Greens—in the company of black-eyed peas and leeks—meld into a deeply balanced dish. This is straightforward and cooks easily in a slow cooker, a pot, or pressure cooker. I love its adaptability as it can progress from a side to a main course dish with only bits of protein and diced veggie of choice. Put on a pot of rice to serve as the under dish.
You might know this as “Hoppin’ John,” served in the American South as a New Year’s Day dish for luck and wealth. I encourage you to make it anytime you have the craving. It’s deeply comforting and can be gussied up in any number of ways.
NOTES: Black-eyed peas are not really peas, they’re beans. They don’t require presoaking and cook in half the cooking time of other dried beans.
Leeks are a member of the onion family and offer a mild onion-garlic flavor. Replace with scallions if desired.
Greens can be kale, collards, mustard greens, chard or a mixture. I prefer kale or chard for their tenderness in a short cooking time when cooking with the peas.
- black-eyed peas, dried, 1 LB.
- water, 7 cups
- garlic, fresh, divided, 2 TBS, (6 cloves), minced
- leeks, 2 cups, (1-2 medium), carefully cleaned*, finely sliced
- kale or other greens, 1 bunch, 6-7 cups, soaked, stemmed, and chopped
- sea salt, 1 1/2 tsp.
- pepper, 1/4 tsp. or to taste
- optional: 1/4 tsp. of liquid smoke
- hot sauce
- cider vinegar
- parmesan cheese
1 Prepare the vegetables. *Leeks need to be thoroughly soaked and rinsed to remove stubborn dirt residuals. Use only white and light green leaves. Reserve dark leaves for another use. Stem and rough chop the kale. Mince the garlic.
2 Sort the peas and remove discolored and chipped ones.
3 Combine peas, leeks, and kale with half the garlic, and water in a medium pot, or pressure cooker, or slow cooker.
• STANDARD POT COOKING DIRECTIONS
4 Bring to boil under high heat, reduce heat to simmer with lid slightly ajar and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. Taste for beans to be slightly firm, but cooked. Proceed to step 9.
PRESSURE COOKER DIRECTIONS follow steps 1 -3 above, then:
5 Bring to the boil, lock down the lid and bring to full pressure. Reduce heat to simmer and cook under full pressure for 8 minutes.
6 Quick-release the pressure and remove lid, turning the lid away from you to vent the steam.
7 Add the salt and remaining garlic. Simmer until beans are soft.
SLOW COOKER DIRECTIONS: follow step 1-3 above, then:
8 Set temperature on low, cover and cook for 4 or more hours, until peas are tender, but not mushy. Alternately, use the high temperature setting and cook for about half the time as the low setting. Avoid lifting the lid unnecessarily, it lengthens cooking time considerably.
9 Add pepper; stir to combine, taste and adjust flavors if needed.
Build-upon Recipe: To add some meat or meatiness to the dish above, slice up smoked sausage and sauté separately to garnish the dish, or add it to the pot along with the leeks. Also consider bacon, ham bits, salt pork, ham hocks or dried shiitake mushrooms.
Consider adding in small dices of cooked potato, especially sweet potato, or even polenta cubes (see below).
Planned-over Recipe: Black-eyed Soup with Pesto For an utterly marvelous makeover soup dilute the beans and greens with water or stock to a soup consistency. Bring to a simmer. Add 2 TBS dry vermouth, a handful of 1/2-inch dices of cooked polenta (which act like dumplings), and float a tablespoon of pesto. Garnish with grated parmesan cheese. This would be a signature soup at my imaginary restaurant. I usually make the base dish so I can create this planned-over dish.