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.
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.