Bedazzled Field Peas

If have been been a reader of my blog for some time now, you already know that I love field (cow) peas.  These little powerhouses of goodness were brought here by our African ancestors and have been grown in North America for multiple generations.  Though I adore peas cooked slow with salty pork, there are so many other delicious and lower sodium ways to enjoy them.  Field peas take on any flavor you throw at them, and they love bathing in good fat.

Camellia Beans of Louisiana grows these elegant little peas named "Lady Cream" and they look a lot like Ptitim, aka Israeli Couscous.  These delicious gems have a very mild flavor and have a nice firm texture when cooked.  They are especially great in soups and salad, just like their larger cousins.

My local market had an interesting selection of produce this week, including a giant crate of pomegranates from California's Central Valley, an area that is being ravaged by fires.  I don't know that it has hit many folks outside of that region yet how much of our food is grown in California because of its annual sunshine and dry climate (both a blessing and a curse.) In fact, the picture on the landing page of this blog is that of a lemon grove next to where we used to live in Ventura County.  As with the hurricanes that ravaged our country this year (including the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico), people have lost everything.

So tonight I decided to use pomegranates and lemons to make a bright, sunny salad with my latest haul of creamers from Louisiana.  Miraculously my little herb garden is still going strong despite the fact that my yard is near-frozen.  With some local feta and sunflower sprouts, this salad has a nice balance of salty, sweet, and tart.  I call it "blingy" because these fancy little peas deserve to be dressed up, and the bright pretty sprouts and ruby-red pomegranate seed made this salad so pretty my daughter called it "shiny".  

You can order Lady Creams directly from Camellia (like I do) if you live outside of the LA/TX/MS/AL corridor, or dried black eyed peas are a wonderful substitute.

Ingredients:

2 cups dry "Lady Cream" peas or black eye peas

2 handfuls sunflower sprouts

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup chopped green onions

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill leaves

1/4 cup fresh pomegranate seeds

1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon honey (preferably raw)

Pinch of fine kosher salt

Pinch of crushed red pepper

Instructions:

1. Pick over your dry beans and toss the duds (off color, wrinkled, speckled, etc.)  Fill a pot with clean water and dump in the beans, swishing around with your hands.  Drain the beans in a colander and rinse out the pot.  Put the beans back in the pot and cover with water by 2 inches.  Place on the stove and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and let cook for an hour, checking from time to time to make sure there is always enough water in the pot to cover the beans.  After the hour and when the beans are still firm but can be easily smushed with a fork, drain in a colander and rinse gently with cold water to keep from cooking further.  Set aside to drain and cool completely, for about 15 minutes.

2.  Put the cooled beans in a large salad bowl and add the sprouts, feta, green onions, parsley, mint, and dill.

3.  In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, honey, salt, and crushed red pepper until slightly creamy.  Pour over the salad and toss gently.  Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds all over the salad and serve.