Meatless Monday: Party on With the Black-Eyed Peas

A can of beans is classic utilitarian fare; crack it open, pour into a saucepan, heat and eat. It may lack flavor and pizazz, but dinner, for the most practical of souls, is served.

Toast dressed to the nines. (Kim O'Donnel)

But when those beans are pureed, life suddenly gets very interesting. The most obvious (and ubiquitous) example is hummus, an irresistible puree of chickpeas that works not only as a party dip but as a sandwich spread and lunch-on-the-run.

I'm not crazy about mushy white beans from a can, but when pureed and sassed up with olive oil, rosemary, garlic, cayenne and lemon (and when I have it, a roasted red pepper), that lowly can o' mush morphs into a glam party snack or workweek lunch fare that surely will be coveted by your coworkers.

After some experimenting last week, I've got a new can to add to my repertoire: black-eyed peas. Also known as Texas or cowboy caviar in some parts, pureed black eyes feel more like pâté on my tongue -- velvety in texture and packed with flavor. Dare I say it almost looks like liverwurst?

Credit for the inspiration goes to the current issue of Saveur, which features an intriguing-sounding recipe for crostini (a.k.a. Fancy Toast at the Casa) topped with a shmear of the pâté, wilted radicchio and wine-infused golden raisins. (What could be bad about that combination?)

The pâté takes about 20 minutes to put together and easily could be made a day or two in advance, allowing the flavors to intensify. It pairs beautifully with the mellowed-out wilted radicchio and plumped-up sweet raisins, but honestly, the pâté is so good on its own I might just start making some for sandwiches.

And look how pretty everybody looks together (see photo, above)! Fancy Toast, you say? This is more like toast dressed to the nines.

Ask me anything: E-mail me your kitchen questions, and I'll pick two or three from the mail bag each week to be featured in this here space.


Crostini with Black-Eyed Peas, Radicchio and Raisins
Adapted from the April 2009 issue of Saveur

1/2 cup olive oil (8 tablespoons), plus extra for brushing
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
2 cloves garlic (1 finely chopped; 1 whole)
1 15-ounce can black-eyed peas (KOD: I like the unsalted, less goopy version from Eden Organic)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 head radicchio, sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch wedges
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
8 slices (or more) of crusty bread

Heat 5 tablespoons of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the thyme, chile flakes, chopped garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add peas and bring up to a simmer.

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until flavors have melded, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender or a food processor and puree until smooth. Add a small amount of water if mixture seems too dry. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

Meanwhile, pour wine into a small saucepan and add raisins. Bring up to a boil, then remove from heat and allow raisins to plump.

Heat remaining three tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add radicchio, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until radicchio is wilted, about eight minutes. Toss with vinegar and set aside.

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Brush bread with olive oil and transfer to a baking sheet. Toast bread until desired texture. Remove from oven, and rub toast with whole garlic clove.

To serve, spread puree on each toast and top with radicchio and raisins.

Makes at least eight snack-sized portions. You will have leftover puree.

By Kim ODonnel |  April 13, 2009; 10:32 AM ET Entertaining , Meatless Monday
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

This looks great! I may have to try it this weekend. :)

Posted by: earlysun | April 13, 2009 11:20 AM

My husband makes a mean "Southern Hummus" which is hummus made with black eyed peas and peanut butter rather than chickpeas and tahini. Everything else is the same, although he tends to put less garlic in the southern hummus than in the regular kind.

Posted by: veginchantilly | April 13, 2009 3:43 PM

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