Black Eyed Peas Salad

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

With Easter coming up, I'm sure a lot of people are staring at their pantry wondering how to make the most of things for a holiday meal. Well, you might be surprised to know there are lots of ways you can dress up some of those humble ingredients. Even beans! This vegan black eyed peas salad has become a favorite of my clients for events, and super easy to pull off. It was inspired by Saladu Ñebbe, a Senegalese dish, which I came across in my research after learning more about my genealogy a couple years ago. My version of the salad incorporates smoked paprika, crushed red pepper and olive oil. That flavor profile is familiar to me from Portuguese and Cape Verdean cuisine, but it merged seamlessly with the original Senegalese version. I always make a huge batch of this because it keeps well in the fridge for a few days and gets better with time.

Be flexible based on the ingredients you have on hand. If you don't have lemon, use a lime or vinegar. Substitute your favorite fresh chili pepper for more pronounced heat - habanero, scotch bonnet, even jalapenos work. For less of a kick, simply incorporate a splash of hot sauce into the vinaigrette. No shallots? Use finely diced red onion. Out of fresh parsley? Try cilantro or arugula. As for veggies, the options are endless. Just think of contrasting textures and color. As written, the recipe works with rinsed and drained canned beans, but you could certainly improve upon the texture by cooking dried black eyed peas yourself. I've included those instructions below. If you don't like black eyed peas, try cooked navy beans or even chickpeas.

Black Eyed Peas Salad

1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 large lemon, plus zest
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced or grated
Cracked black pepper, to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
3 cups (2 cans) cooked black eyed peas, drained and rinsed*
1 cup diced cucumber (halve and scrape out the seeds before dicing)
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced
6 scallions, sliced
Handful of fresh Italian parsley leaves, roughly chopped

*To cook dried black eyed peas: 
You can shorten the cooking time by soaking overnight, but it isn't necessary. Place a cup of rinsed dried beans in a pot and add water to cover by a couple of inches. I like to add a halved onion, a head of garlic with the top sliced off, and a bay leaf. Bring the water up to a boil for a few minutes, then reduce to a very low simmer. Cover the pot, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Cook the beans until they are tender but still have a pleasant bite left to them, which could take 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours, depending on the age of your beans. Since this is for a salad, it's important not to cook the beans past the point where they begin to break down and get mushy. Don't salt the water until closer to the end. After the beans have fully cooked, discard the onion, garlic, and bay leaf. Drain the beans and rinse in cold water. 

Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes (up to 3 hours, if dried beans are used)
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
Recommended equipment (affiliate links): Zester

Recipe instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, smoked paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, shallot, and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. You can adjust the acidity of the vinaigrette with more lemon, or a splash of vinegar if needed.
  2. Add the cooked drained beans to the bowl and toss in the vinaigrette. 
  3. Season your veggies with a pinch of salt and pepper, then toss those into the salad as well. You can let this sit at room temperature for an hour before serving or transfer to the fridge to chill.
  4. Before serving, toss to redistribute the vinaigrette. Garnish with scallions and parsley leaves. Leftovers can be safely refrigerated for up to 3 days.

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