The tricky cold August weather pulled quite a fast one on me. Here I was, thinking I had more time with summer, when we passed the halfway threshold in the last month of "vacation." Where did it all go?
As if summer's abrupt end weren't enough, the holidays arrive early this year. We'll be out on a boat on Labor Day, enjoying the breeze and (hopefully) some last summer heat, and the very next day, we'll be in synagogue.
This one awesome time notwithstanding, I tend to plan my holiday menus at the 11th hour. The couple of days before Rosh Hashanah are a frenzied blur of grocery store lines, written and rewritten shopping lists, dirty dishes, and -- okay -- amazing, amazing smells wafting from the kitchen. But this year, I'm trying a more proactive approach. So for the next couple of weeks, I'll share some recipes that celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of fall. I hope they'll find a home on your table, whether you're celebrating the New Year or just the turning of the seasons.
I've got a few dinner ideas up my sleeve, but if you'll humor me, this year, I'm starting with lunch.
With the holidays starting in early September, we're counting on nice weather and are planning to have a picnic one afternoon. Black-eyed peas are perfect picnic food, since you can cook them in advance and keep them in the fridge for a few days without a problem. They're happy chilled or at room temperature, and they play well with a huge range of flavors. They also happen to be an auspicious food for the Jewish new year, associated with prosperity and luck in the coming year.
One of my favorite dishs involving black-eyed peas comes from Naomi Duguid’s excellent book Burma. I blogged about it last year, and since then, I haven't been able to get enough of the addictive combination of turmeric, shallots, ginger, and fish sauce. I highly recommend trying it. (You can substitute a bit of soy sauce for the fish sauce, if that's not something you keep stocked.)
I built on that original recipe in honor of Rosh Hashanah, adding another auspicious food – pomegranate seeds – and some pomegranate syrup, for good measure. I swapped out fish sauce for soy sauce, added a heaping handful of parsley, and finished the dish with a big squeeze of fresh lime.
If a nice, big head-start is a third auspicious sign of things to come, we're in good shape.
And hey: whether or not you're celebrating, this would make a mighty fine lunch for a weekend in the park. Just sayin'.
Black-Eyed Peas with Turmeric and Pomegranate
Inspired by a recipe from Naomi Duguid’s Burma
Serves 4 as a side dish or a component of a meal
1 heaping cup black-eyed peas 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 teaspoon fresh grated turmeric root or ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric 1 large shallot, minced ¾ teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon soy sauce Seeds from 1 pomegranate (about ¾ cup) 2 teaspoon pomegranate syrup, optional (if not using, double lime juice) 2-3 tablespoons chopped parsley, chives, or a mixture Juice of ½ a lime
If your black-eyed peas are old, soak them overnight in enough water to cover them by at least 1 inch.
When ready to cook the peas, fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Add drained peas, cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until peas are fork-tender, between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours. Cooking time varies drastically and depends on the age of your peas, so check them regularly. You want them soft, but not burst. As you can see in the photos above, I overdid mine a bit; the times listed here help ensure that you won't.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in your smallest sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the turmeric and shallots, and cook for 3-4 minutes, until shallots are soft, fragrant, and browned in spots. Add salt, stir to combine, and remove from the heat.
When peas are soft but still retaining their shape, drain them, transfer them to a bowl, and pour the shallot mixture over the peas, making sure to scrape the sauté pan for all those little bits of turmeric and shallot clinging to the bottom. Stir beans to incorporate, taking care not to smush them too much.
Add soy sauce and pomegranate syrup if using, and toss to combine.
Right before serving, fold in pomegranate seeds, fresh herbs, and lime juice. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.