Black Eyed Pea Goulash

Over the last few years, I’ve strayed somewhat from the beany stews that I so loved when I was first learning to cook. Could it be that I see them as unsophisticated? Certainly their image is somewhat austere, and they can seem unexciting, and yet (for some reason or another), they are warming, comforting, homey, reassuring, kind to my tummy.

Black Eyed Pea Goulash

Black Eyed Pea Goulash with Garlic Mashed Potatoes

It doesn’t hurt that they’re economical and healthy, too. I wanted to make Boston Baked Beans for dinner this evening, but found I’d run out of haricot beans, and there was this packet of black eyed peas sitting in the dried bean draw waiting to be tried. In a rather bad mix of enthusiasm and disorganization, I put the beans on to soak, and then headed for my copy of Rose Elliot’s The Bean Book, which I’ve had since the mid 80’s and is now festooned with annotations and post-it notes, and has lost much of its glue, so is falling apart and has to be treated with respect in what is definitely the autumn of its life.

Anyway, I made the Beany Goulash, with my inevitable tweaks (more garlic, less oil, sun-dried tomatoes instead of puree … that sort of thing), served it up with garlic mashed potatoes, and watched while both of my girls cleared their plates, and told me I should make this more frequently. So much for austere and uninspiring. I shall make this more often. It will probably surface every couple of weeks on a weekday evening, warming tummies, and not requiring a whole lot of my attention.

8 oz dried black eyed peas/beans
2 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
16 oz (4 cups) green/red/yellow pepper strips (frozen works fine)
28 oz canned, chopped tomatoes in juice
4 oz (1/2 cup) sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained and minced
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1-2 tbsp sugar (white or brown)

Pick the black eyed peas over for debris, rinse, and cover with plenty of water before leaving to soak over night.

Drain the peas, rinse once or twice, then cover with fresh water, bring to a simmer, and cook until the beans are soft but not falling apart (~30-40 minutes stove-top, or just bring up to pressure in a pressure cooker, then remove from the heat and allow to cool naturally).

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and gently fry the onion for about 10 minutes until it is soft and translucent.

Add the garlic and pepper strips, and carry on frying and stirring for 5 minutes.

Drain the beans. Stir all ingredients together, and allow the stew to simmer gently for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the surface turns a little darker, and the oil separates and rises to the surface, and the sauce has thickened.

Check seasoning before serving, and eat with a clear conscience.

By the way, if you want to make garlic mashed potatoes: peel, dice, and boil 4 baking potatoes (~2 lbs) until soft but not disintegrating. Mince 6 cloves of garlic and warm through in 2 tbsp vegan margarine (I like Earth Balance). Once the potatoes are cooked, roughly drain them, add the garlicky margarine and 1 tsp salt, then mash thoroughly with a potato masher. Check seasoning before serving.

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Silky Smooth Dairy Free Rum and Raisin Ice ‘Cream’

This recipe is simplicity itself. Rich, creamy, and not too sweet, with little pockets of intense raisin/rum flavor. It includes cashews and alcohol, both of which disrupt the formation of ice crystals while the mixture is freezing, and so help to make the ice-cream smooth.

Rum and raisin ice cream (vegan)

5 oz (1 cup) raisins
1/2 cup dark rum
1 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup maple syrup

Soak the raisins in the rum for at least 1/2 hour, turning them through once in a while.

Put 8 fl oz (1 cup) water and the cashews into a high speed blender, and process until completely smooth.

Transfer the cashew mixture to a saucepan with all the remaining ingredients, use another 8 fl oz (1 cup) of water to rinse out the blender into the saucepan, and bring to a simmer until thickened, stirring continuously as it starts to boil.

Allow to cool, then pour into a freezer-proof container and freeze for approximately 4 hours, stirring every hour or so.

At this point, the ice-cream is still soft enough to serve. If it is left for longer in the freezer and gets too hard, you might want to allow it to defrost slightly in the fridge for 1/2 hour before serving.

For a variation on a theme, make Prune and Brandy ice-cream by substituting 5 oz prunes for the raisins, and brandy for the rum. Blend the prunes and brandy with the cashews.

Pineapple and Mango Guacamole

Pineapple GuacamoleA couple of weeks ago, we had a storm which brought down a whole heap of avocados off the trees, and once avocados are off the trees they start to ripen which means that I’ve had to think of ways to have the whole family eating plenty of them in a hurry. None of us has got bored of the Mediterranean Guacamole, yet, but I did run out of tomatoes yesterday, and so hunted around for other avocado recipes. I found loads of recipes on the Calavo website, but many of them included cream or meat, so I took some ideas and played with them, until this variation on a theme popped out: an interesting mixture of mildly hot and sweet, all tempered by rich avocado. Note that the amount of chili added depends on how hot your chili is. Add enough so you can just taste the heat.

1/2 cup pineapple pieces (frozen & defrosted works fine)
1/2 cup mango pieces (frozen and defrosted works fine)
1 cups avocado flesh (~4 avocados)
1 tbsp minced jalapeno chili (or to taste)
2 tsp lemon/lime juice
1 tbsp minced onion

Chop (by hand or in a blender) the pineapple and mango pieces into small pieces.

Stir all the ingredients together with a metal spoon (start with 1/3 of the chili), chopping any large pieces of the avocado into small chunks with the side of the spoon.

Check seasoning (adding more chili as desired), and serve with corn tortilla chips, or wrapped in GF tortillas.

Pasta with Rich Tomato and Grilled Aubergine (Eggplant) Sauce

Pasta with aubergine sauceIf you have any love of aubergines (eggplant) at all, do try this. My husband loves aubergines, but the taste is easily lost in strong flavors. This tomato sauce is fairly simple, but it is pretty assertive. To help the aubergine hold its own in the sauce, I use plenty of it, and stir it into the tomatoes at the last minute before serving, so that the flavors remain distinct.

Serve hot with a light, chilled, Lambrusco.

Serves 4-6 with 12-16 oz GF pasta

1 large aubergine/eggplant
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
1 (28 oz) tin of diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 basil leaves
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes cured in oil, drained and chopped
2 tsp sugar (optional, for acidic tomatoes)
1 cup black olives, stoned and cut in half

Cut the aubergine into 1/4″ thick rounds, and cut any of those rounds which are too big for one mouthful into 1/2 or 1/4s.

Spread the slices out in a single layer on a couple of baking sheets.

Pour 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil into a cup, and use a pastry brush to brush the top side of the aubergine slices. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt.

Grill for a couple of minutes under a high heat for about 2-3 minutes or until the slices are turning slightly brown.

Turn the slices over, and repeat.

Pour 1 tbsp olive oil into a large saucepan, and gently fry the onion until translucent.

Aubergine and tomato sauceAdd the garlic to the onion, then the tinned and sun-dried tomatoes, and the olives. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced and the tomato chunks have broken down.

Check seasoning, and add sugar if necessary.

Add the basil and aubergine, and warm through for 2 minutes. Serve with pasta and a chilled red Lambrusco.