Tag Archives: pepper

Cowpea Salad

I love cooking with cowpeas. They’re versatile and easy to work with, and undeniably pretty. I seek them out at summer farmer’s markets, and I rejoice when they arrive in our Local Box. Lucky for me, cowpeas are a heat loving crop that flourishes in Austin’s hottest months.

There are several varieties of cowpeas growing in Central Texas:  black eyed, lady cream, and purple hull peas are some of the most common. Cowpeas are usually removed from their hulls before they are sold at market, packed in snack-sized plastic baggies with about 1.5 cups of loose peas per package. All the varieties of cowpeas in Austin are recognizable by their pale color, kidney shape and the signature darkened “eye” at their center.


In my experience, each variety of cowpea can be used interchangeably in recipes. Lightly-steamed cowpeas can also substitute for cooked English peas or white beans in many preparations. My friend Megan at Stetted likes to eat them raw as a snack, and they are stewed with tomatoes and jalapenos in traditional Southern dishes.

The inspiration for this cowpea recipe came from Blue Star Cafeteria, a little restaurant in the Rosedale neighborhood of Austin. Among other things, they serve a terrific shrimp cocktail with homemade pea salad and saltines on the side. Pure comfort food. I order that dish every time we visit, and while I’ll happily share the shrimp, I save all that creamy pea salad for myself.

I recreated Blue Star’s pea salad at home substituting purple hull peas from Pleasant Hill Farm in Leander, Texas, for the green English peas they use at the restaurant. Like most good comfort food, this dish is straightforward to make and relies on good ingredients for its success. The most important thing to get right is obviously the peas– very fresh cowpeas are tender and have a creamy texture when they’re cooked. Minced red onion and red bell pepper give the salad sweetness and bite, and a simple mayonnaise dressing and cheddar cheese add richness.This salad is what I imagine eating at the church potluck of my dreams.

I usually find serving salads in vegetable cups to be a little extravagant for our weeknight suppers. However, I plated this salad in a hollowed out red pepper on a whim and I’m glad I did. After an hour of chilling in the refrigerator, the pepper added extra heat and sweetness to the salad, welcome flavors on a hot evening.

Purple Hull Pea Salad

 

Cowpea Salad (yields four side-dish servings)
1 1/2 cups fresh black-eyed peas, purple hull peas or lady cream peas
1/2  red onion
1/2  red bell pepper
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon peppper
1/3 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Whole red bell peppers for serving, if desired

Bring to a boil three cups of water in a medium saucepan. Prepare the cowpeas by rinsing them and picking out any leaves or darkened, soft peas from the rest. Once the water is boiling, add the cowpeas to the pot and cook uncovered for six minutes. Drain the peas and set them aside to cool.

Mince the onion and red bell pepper. Grate the cheese, if necessary. In a large bowl, mix together the minced vegetables, mayonnaise, mustard and shredded cheese. Once the cowpeas are cooled completely, add them in too. (Remember, warm cowpeas will melt the grated cheese, so be patient and let them cool completely!) Season the salad with salt and pepper and refrigerate it for at least an hour before serving.

To make red pepper cups: shop for wide, regularly shape bell peppers with flat bottoms. Cut the top off each bell pepper and pull out the ribs and seeds. Fill the pepper cup it with salad. That’s it! Simplest fancy pants garnish ever.

Kathryn

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Local Box Meal Plan: Nov. 16-20

Happy Thanksgiving! I realize that I’m a week early, but we’re having some friends over for an early Thanksgiving on Sunday. Because it’s not the actual Thanksgiving day, I’m taking some liberties and veering from my family’s traditional Turkey Day menu (and let’s face it, who wants to have the same meal twice in one week?).

This week, we’re getting sweet potatoes, red onion, and collards or mustard greens from Naegelin, Eureka persimmons from Indian Hill (Texas A&M has a good breakdown of persimmon varieties grown in Texas here), Cameo apples from Top of Texas, pie pumpkin, green beans from Animal Farm, hot and sweet peppers from Green Gate Farm, escarole and Louisiana shallot-scallions from Acadian Family Farm, Bibb lettuce from Bella Verdi and herb from Pure Luck.

So I’m making:

Appetizer:

Main course:

  • Herb-roasted turkey
  • Chestnut-apple stuffing (made with a red onion) served inside a roasted pumpkin – this only works if we get a pumpkin, not fennel. Here’s hoping for a pumpkin for the super cool presentatation!
  • Roasted sweet potatoes tossed with herbs
  • Roasted green beans
  • Sauteed greens with garlic
  • Louisiana shallot-scallion dinner rolls (based on this sweet dinner rolls recipe)

And because we still have to eat dinner on Saturday:

I’m also retrying hot pepper jelly with this recipe, since it didn’t work so well last time.

Are you changing up some of your Thanksgiving staples this year, or keeping it traditional?

Local Box Meal Plan: Oct. 3-7

Fall is finally here — apples have started to make an appearance in our Local Boxes. I’m so excited.

This week, we’re getting Gala apples; pears from Lightsey Farms; persimmon; Bibb lettuce from Bella Verdi; cucumbers, Thai eggplant and dragon tongue beans from Animal Farm, yellow onions, red potatoes and either patty pan squash or zucchini from Naegelin; basil from Montesino, grape tomatoes, peppers from Tecalote, and radish.

So I’m making:

Lunch:

  • Chicken salad with apples and pecans
  • Bibb lettuce salad with cucumber, tomatoes and radish

Appetizer:

Side Dishes:

  • Steamed dragon tongue beans tossed with sauteed garlic and basil
  • Herb-roasted potatoes

Dinners:

Dessert:

I’ve been hearing folks say they’re not sure how else to use persimmons. You can use them in salads, in baking, or as a topping for a savory meat dish. Do you have any persimmon recipes you love?

Local Box Meal Plan: Sept. 7-11

We’re actually going to be in Napa and Sonoma this weekend, so we won’t be getting a Local Box from Greenling this week. But I still have a few ideas for ways to use this week’s box contents, so I thought I would share them anyway.

This week, we’re getting cucumber melon and lettuce from Bluebonnet Hydroponics; eggplant and long beans from Animal Farm; canary melon, edamame and a variety of peppers from Tecalote; Texan pears and black-eyed peas from Lightsey Farms; basil or herbs from Pure Luck; shallots from Lundgren; and okra from Naegelin.

Here’s what I would have made:

Lunch:

  • Chicken salad with herbs and lettuce

Side Dish:

  • Quinoa salad with edamame and black-eyed peas
  • Sauteed okra with pancetta and shallots

Dessert:

Dinner:

I’m bummed we won’t be getting a box, but I can’t say that we won’t be eating and drinking well!

Local Box Meal Plan: August 3-7

This week we’re getting anaheim and serrano peppers from Lundgren, blueberries from Berry Best, pea shoots, baby leeks from Animal Farm, a peach from Cooper Orchards, eggplant from Tecalote, lettuce from Bluebonnet Hydroponics, watermelon from Acadian, figs from Purple Goose Farm, basil from My Father’s Farm, and squash from Texas Natural.

So I’m making:

Lunch:

  • Grilled squash and eggplant sandwich with a basil-chevre spread
  • BLT on a pizza dough roll

Happy hour:

  • Baked brie with figs and blueberries
  • Watermelon and feta skewers

Dinner:

  • Grilled chicken for Cory/salmon for me marinated in lemongrass and ginger, served with a pea shoot salad dressed in sesame oil, soy sauce, and toasted sesame seeds
  • Chile verde (made with peppers and leeks)

Keep in mind that like figs, pea shoots are quite perishable and need to be used ASAP!

Local Box Meal Plan for July 20-24

Sorry for the brief hiatus in weekly Local Box meal plans, folks. Between our vacation last week and it being a lazy summer, we haven’t needed a meal plan for the last few weeks. But I’m back with a few new ideas!

This week, we’re getting figs, red potatoes from Naegelin, jalapenos from Lundgren, blueberries from Berry Best, Middle Eastern cucumbers from Acadian, mixed onions, purple hull peas from Animal Farm, peaches from Cooper Orchards, mixed peppers from Lundgren, tomatoes, basil from My Father’s Farm or Tecalote, and hydroponic lettuce from Bella Verde.

So I’m making:

Breakfast:

  • Eggs with garlicky skillet potatoes and onions (my husband’s actually making this one, as he made up this recipe himself!)

Lunch:

  • Chopped grilled chicken on a salad of lettuce, chopped basil, cucumber, tomatoes, and peppers

Side Dishes:

  • Purple hull peas (made how Branny makes her lentils) with pepper-spiked cornbread
  • Stuffed jalapenos (you know, the ones with the cream cheese and bacon? We’ll take these over to a friend’s BBQ this weekend.)

Dessert:

  • Fig ice cream
  • Grilled peach and blueberry cobbler (yep, a cobbler made in foil right on the grill!)

Figs are a bit hard for me because I don’t care for them too much (blasphemy — I know! It’s the seeds. Too many seeds.), so I have to make them as palatable as possible. I’m thinking ice cream is the best way to do this.

How are you using your Greenling box this week?

Local Box, 10.22.2008

Welcome, fall! I unloaded my Local Box today and couldn’t resist biting into an apple… which led to an impromptu apple galette. (More on that later – after it comes out of the oven and has its edibility scrutinized!) I’m happy to continue stocking up on onions and butternut squash and potatoes, though Key limes are beginning to get an okra-like reputation in my home. I’m planning on roasting some zucchini later today. We’ll use that as a side and adornment for pizza or pasta later in the week – if it doesn’t get eaten right off the cooling rack. And with all those bell peppers, I’m looking for a recipe for a raw bell-pepper salad. Has anyone seen or eaten such a thing? Finally, speaking of peppers, the tiny pumpkin-shaped ones (top-right of the left white bowl) are adorable! I can’t wait to see what they taste like.