According to Greek food writer Diane Kochilas, the Greeks love black-eyed peas, at least those who have no memory of World War II, when for many they were the only food around. This recipe, funnily enough, is much like a Southwestern black-eyed pea salad that I make every year for New Year's Day good luck.
1 1/2 cups black-eyed peas
1 bay leaf salt
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small red bell pepper, diced
2 plump garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
, lightly crushed in a mortar
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 red onion, halved, sliced, soaked 10 min in water with 1 tsp vinegar, drained and rinsed (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (more to taste)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
freshly ground pepper
1. Place the beans in a pot with the bay leaf and cover with water by 2 to 3 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon salt and continue to simmer gently until tender but not mushy, another 15 to 20 minutes. Drain through a colander set over a bowl. Transfer the black-eyed peas to a salad bowl. Discard the bay leaf.
2. Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the oil. When it is hot, add the bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until just crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin seeds, and mustard seeds, and stir together for another minute or two, until the garlic is fragrant. Remove from the heat and toss with the black-eyed peas. Cool to room temperature, or chill.
3. Just before serving, add the onion, dill, parsley, vinegar, the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil, and pepper to taste, and toss together. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add some broth from the beans if you want the mixture to be moister.
For advance preparation, you can make the dish through Step 2 up to 3 days before you wish to serve. Keep well covered in the refrigerator. Proceed with Step 3 shortly before serving.
For Black-Eyed Pea Salad with Feta: This makes the dish a little more substantial. Before serving, crumble 2 to 3 ounces feta over the top of the salad.