We know, we know, we have probably already told you that some other dish we have previously written about is our absolute favourite…but here we go again! Black-eyed peas and spinach is our true absolute favourite food (until the next favourite comes along that is).
We believe that black-eyed peas (also called cowpeas) are the Queen of Legumes, and apparently we are not alone. They are awesome enough to have a music band named after them, to be the conduit with which to poison an abusive husband named Earl in the Dixie Chicks hit, “Goodbye Earl” (we do not condone murder by the way) and to have a franchise restaurant in Texas and Tennessee named after them. The restaurant, of course, serves black-eyed peas. We don’t think any other legume has received as much popular attention. There must be something to these little gems.
And there is. There is actually a LOT to them. First off, they are adorable. They really are! The most common, commercial type of black-eyed pea, the California Black-eye, is a pale beige colour, with a prominent black spot (the eye) right in the middle. Not only are they adorable, they are also available…almost everywhere. Black-eyed peas are grown in several parts of the world, which is why they feature so prominently in a variety of cuisines, from American Southern cooking, to Asian specialities, to Mediterranean recipes. These are hardy legumes, which like the heat and are pretty resistant to drought. Cultivating them also adds nitrogen to the soil, which a good thing as it keeps soil healthy, and capable of nourishing other plants. Add to all of this their impressive nutritional profile and you can see why black-eyed peas are popular the world over. They contain significant amounts of iron, are great sources of protein and fiber, and are good sources of calcium and Vitamin A. All this for less than 200 calories in a one cup serving. That’s not a lot of calories for a food which will keep you full and satisfied for hours; legumes do that.
There are many varieties of black-eyed peas available throughout the world. As we mentioned, the most common commercial variety is the California Black-eye, and that is what we use in this recipe. If you happen to come across another variety of black-eyed pea, give it a try. Apparently the different varieties, many of which are heirloom, come in various colours! In this dish, because the black-eyed peas are added to the spinach mixture after they are already cooked, if you do use a different type of black-eyed pea you may need to adjust the cooking time. Let us know if you make this dish with something other than the California Black-eye! Send us a picture!
When you purchase your dried black-eyed peas try to buy them in a place with a high bean turnover. Although dried legumes don’t spoil per se, if they are very old they may take a much longer time to cook. In a pinch, you can use good quality canned black-eyed peas. Simply rinse them very well to remove all the excess salt and limit the amount of salt you will add to your meal. Although we always recommend using dried legumes over canned, truth is, if you use canned here you have cut your cooking time down by at least an hour. Sometimes, that is essential!
This recipe calls for a total of 30 ounces of spinach. When you are washing your spinach, make sure to pick out any wilted or yellow leaves. The water which will cling to the leaves of your spinach after washing it is important, as it will add just the right amount of water to your pot when you combine all of the ingredients.
If you have homemade tomato sauce, you can use that in this recipe. Otherwise, a good quality canned or bottled tomato juice will do.
Mia Kouppa: Black eyed peas and spinach
- 1 cup dry black-eyed peas
- 30 ounces of fresh spinach
- 1 cup chopped, flat leaf parsley
- 1 yellow onion, chopped finely
- 1/2 cup Greek olive oil
- 2 cups tomato juice or homemade tomato sauce
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Rinse the black-eyed peas and pick through them to remove any stones or shrivelled up peas. Soak in cold water overnight.
- Drain black-eyed peas. Bring pot of water to a boil and add the black-eyed peas. Lower to medium-high heat and boil for one hour. Check your pot occasionally and remove any foam which may rise to the surface of the water. After one hour, check that the black-eyed peas are fully cooked. If they are not, allow to cook a little longer until they are edible. Drain the peas and set aside.
- Meanwhile, wash the spinach and cut off any thick or course stems.
- In a large pot heat the oil and add the onion. Cook over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the onion does not burn. Add the parsley to the pot and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- To the pot add the spinach (the spinach will be wet from having been washed…this is fine), drained peas, tomato juice and salt and pepper. Mix well. Allow to cook, covered, over medium high heat for approximately 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Enjoy.