This recipe is simple, hearty, delicious, and the epitome of comfort food. Just sitting there, sadly, in a small bowl, this dish does not come even close to expressing how much I loved eating it. I should have had my roommate take a picture of me with a spoonful in my mouth, and a big smile on my face.
Take note, this recipe has a day of prep time, as it does require that you cook up some dried beans, which may be daunting, at first, to anyone who has not done it before. However, once you break that seal and discover how tasty home-cooked beans can be, you'll automatically put them on to soak the night before.
Black-Eyed Peas with Swiss Chard
1 C dried black-eyed peas
1 bunch swiss chard
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
ground cayenne pepper
To cook beans from dried, first you must soak them: cover the beans with plenty of water and let sit at room temperature at least 8 hours. (Or you can do a quick soak: again cover with plenty of water, bring to a boil, cover, turn off the heat, and let soak for 2 hours.)
Drain off the soaking liquid, and add enough water to cover the black-eyed peas by about 1/2 inch. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, for many hours. At least three hours. What you want to have happen is for the beans to be so cooked that they start splitting open and falling apart a bit. Once this occurs, remove the lid, and increase the heat a bit so the water starts boiling off. You want nearly all the water to be removed from the pan so that you can mix the peas up and have them close to the consistency of refried beans. At this point, cover and remove from heat completely.
Next, wash the chard leaves well. Remove the white ribs so you have only green leafy parts. Cut this into small strips.
Heat some olive oil (say, a tablespoon) in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for a few minutes. Add the chard and cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the leaves are wilted and tender.
Add the mashed black-eyed peas and stir well. Season to taste with salt, and shake in some ground cayenne pepper. Even if you don't like spicy foods, add a pinch or a dash. It'll give the dish some depth of flavor without a lot of heat.
One 1/2 cup serving of black-eyed peas alone provides 120 calories, 5 grams fiber (20% DV) and 10 grams protein (about 20% DV). Plus, they contain about 20% of the RDA for iron, 4% for calcium, and some supply of potassium.
One 1/2 cup serving of cooked swiss chard provides fewer than 20 calories, 2 grams fiber, and about 1 gram protein. It'll also kick in over 100% of your RDA for Vitamin A, 25% of Vitamin C, 5% of calcium, and 10% of iron.
As comfort food goes, this packs a serious nutrition punch. I enjoyed this dish along with cornbread (thus the previous post) for a couple of evenings, and then with rye crispbread spread with fruit-sweetened superfruit spread. Although the potential iron content is high, both beans and greens contain natural compounds that can interfere with iron absorption in the intestines, so it's a good idea to get some extra Vitamin C with the meal to help that iron get into your system.