This healthy and satisfying dish combines Southern-style black-eyed peas and braised collard greens with elements of the Italian version of “beans and greens,” typically made with white beans, escarole, garlic and red chili flake. This is a great example of the blessing of our melting pot cuisine. Collards provide a tangier flavor and a meatier texture than escarole, and the black-eyed peas have an earthier flavor and texture than the creamy white bean. This recipe retains more of the healthful nutrients and freshens the flavor of the collards by sautéing the greens rather than braising them. The black-eyed peas are cooked with the Cajun trinity mirepoix of onions, celery and green pepper and then sautéed with the fresh greens and lots of garlic. I like to include the smoky flavor of a seasoning meat like ham hock and a dash of chili as well. If you want to keep this vegetarian, it is perfectly delicious without the ham. Either way, don’t forget a sprinkle of cider vinegar as a condiment right before you take a bite.
• 1 pound dried black-eyed peas
• 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
• Water as needed
• 1 ea. ham hock
• 2 oz. olive oil
• 1 ea. yellow onion, peeled, 1/4” dice
• 1 stalk celery, 1/4” dice
• 1 small green bell pepper, stem, membrane and seeds removed, 1/4” dice
• 4 cloves garlic cloves, sliced very thin
• 1 bunch collard greens, stems removed and torn into large piece
• Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
• Red chili flake or Cholula Chili Garlic Hot Sauce, to taste
• Apple cider vinegar, to taste
1. Cover beans with 4” water. Bring to a boil for two minutes. Remove from heat, and let stand in water for an hour. Drain and rinse.
2. Repeat, but add ham hock and bring to boil. Lower to simmer and tilt lid to allow steam to release. Add extra water or stock if necessary to keep covered. Cook for an hour or until peas are just tender, not mushy. Drain but reserve 1 cup of liquid. Remove hock and cut off any extra meat and cut into small dice. Set aside.
3. Heat oil in soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery and bell pepper and sweat until soft and no color. Add garlic until fragrant; do not allow any color or the flavor will be bitter. If you like the heat of chili flake, add to your taste.
4. Add greens. You may need to press them down into the pot to fit them all in, but they will shrink as they wilt. Do not cover. Greens will brighten and color with intensify. Cook until lightly tender but not chewy.
5. Add peas, diced ham and reserved liquid. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and Cholula.
6. Serve with apple cider to sprinkle on top.
Manda Hudak is the savory chef instructor at The Culinary Institute of Montana at Flathead Valley Community College. For more information, visit www.culinaryinstituteofmt.com.