Monday, April 1, 2013

Weekend Recipe: Black-Eyed Peas with Chard and Soba Noodles...Kind Of

I made this recipe from my Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker cookbook by Robin Robertson. I love black-eyed peas and I loooove carbs (especially pasta), so this seemed like it could be a match made in heaven. My favorite quick and easy weeknight meal that includes black-eyed peas and carbs consists of black-eyed peas, instant rice, butter, salt, and pepper. Super healthy, I know, but so good. 

Anyway, here's the ingredients list for this recipe as written:
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard (I used fresh spinach) 
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (I used canola oil)
  • 1 large carrot, halved lengthwise and sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 15 oz cans of black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 c vegetable stock (I used vegetable bouillon)
  • 8 oz package of soba noodles
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Firstly, I have never had chard, but I've read about it on food blogs and it is quite popular. Have you had it? My local grocery store didn't have any, but a quick substitution search on my phone revealed that I could reliably use spinach in its place. I don't know how accurate this is, so feel free to weigh in if you've eaten chard. Actually, since chard is in the same classification subfamily as beets, beet greens would probably have been the better substitute, but I've sure never seen those at the regular grocery store. If you've ever wondered why this Mediterranean green is called Swiss chard, I'm here to assuage your curiosity. It is named for the homeland of the Swiss botanist who discovered it.

Doesn't chard look lovely? Photo by mercedesfromtheeighties via Wikimedia Commons.
Trim your chard leaves from the stalks (you only want to use the leaves for this recipe). Cook for 5 minutes in salted boiling water. Drain and set aside.

At this point, meaning during the very first step of the recipe, I was just moseying along following the directions and trusting that they were correct and would result in the dish I was expecting, as one does with recipes. Suddenly, I realized how idiotic it was that this is the first step. When a recipe says to set something aside it usually means that you will revisit it in a few minutes. Well, while my spinach was cooking I scanned the rest of the recipe to see when we would come back to it and discovered that we add it to the recipe at the end of the crock pot cooking time 6-8 hours later. So what to do with this set aside chard/spinach in the meantime? I just stuck it in the fridge. Later, 7 hours later in fact, it looked so slimy and unappetizing that the thought of putting in my mouth was really skeeving me out, so I threw it away. You can now call this recipe Black-Eyed Peas with Soba Noodles Sans Chard/Spinach. I recommend, obviously, boiling the chard/spinach right before adding it to the crock pot as one of the final steps in the recipe.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, shallots, and garlic and cook until softened.

Did you notice that I didn't use a skillet. What can I say? It was dirty I'm a rebel. Also, the directions say to cover the skillet while cooking. I didn't. See: Rebel. Also, this is not necessary. Have you ever cooked shallots? Shallots belong to the onion family, obv, but are mellower than your common onion and smell amazing cooking in the oil.

Transfer the carrot mixture to a slow cooker and add the black-eyed peas and stock, and then season with salt and pepper.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

This is when you are supposed to add the chard/spinach. Then serve over soba noodles. Enjoy!

Guess what? I completely forgot to take a picture of the finished product. It was okay. I think that I prefer my black-eyed peas unadulterated. Also, I wonder if this would be better if it did actually have chard or spinach in it. This is the third recipe I have made with this cookbook and the third time I have felt underwhelmed. How many chances should I give it before deciding it isn't worth trying anymore?

Do you love black-eyed peas as much as I do? How do you like to prepare them?

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