Tonight was the first time in awhile that I've been in the kitchen with an Actual Idea about what I wanted to cook (as opposed to what was available and theoretically edible). Now, don't go imagining that I've been to the grocery store, because I have not. BUT. It is amazing what you can find to make a meal when reduced to bare essentials...I realize that many of my posts lately have had this McGyver/Great Depression subsistence vibe (thanks, Aoife!), but grad school is currently keeping me on the hop, so an afternoon in the kitchen seems like an exciting prospect.
And besides: BARACK OBAMA IS OUR NEXT PRESIDENT! (Sorry, but I'm still pretty buzzed about this whole "feeling optimistic about the future" thing, it's such a strangely disorienting notion after the past 8 years.)
Anyway, there's no substitute for dried beans (how's that for a non sequitur?), if you can just remember to soak them; they really make canned beans look like...well, canned beans. Last night I came home from an all-too-short weekend in Brooklyn/Williamsburg (the brunch! the shops! the galleries! the vegan restaurants! the company!) and knew that A. I had to spend the entirety of today finishing a paper, and B. we would be hungry at dinnertime. 'Tis ever thus. So I heroically put some black-eyed peas in water and went to bed in the full confidence that by 5pm the following day I would have come up with something to do with them. And, after 7--count 'em--hours staring at my laptop, I headed into the kitchen and made...THIS:
Black-eyed peas and veggies
~ 1 cup black-eyed peas, soaked at least 8 hours, rinsed and drained
~ 1 tbsp. olive oil
~ 3 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 3 cups chopped onions
~ 1 cup diced celery
~ 1/2 cup diced carrots
~ 1 tbsp. tarragon
~ 1 tsp. each salt, thyme, marjoram, basil, 2 bay leaves
~ Fresh black pepper to taste
~ 1 28 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
~ 2 cups vegetable broth
~ In a large, deep pot, heat the olive oil and add the onions.
~ Cook for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and celery; cook another 3 minutes.
~ Add the carrots, spices and tomatoes; raise the heat to high and bring to a boil.
~ Add the drained black-eyed peas and broth; return to a boil.
~ Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally to make sure it dosen't stick.
~ Turn off the heat and remove the bay leaves.
Mushroom Polenta (with olives and sun-dried tomatoes)
~ 1 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1/2 cup chopped black olives
~ 1/4 cup minced sun-dried tomatoes
~ 1 tsp. each salt, thyme
~ 4 cups mushroom broth (ideally made from 1 cup dried mushrooms, steeped in 4 cups boiling water for at least 2 hours and pureed in a blender; but packaged is okay, too)
~ 1.5 cups polenta
~ Heat the oil in a 4 qt. saucepan, then add the garlic and saute for a minute or so.
~ Add the chopped olives, sun-dried tomatoes, thyme and salt, and cook another minute or two.
~ Pour in the mushroom broth and bring to a boil.
~ Add the polenta, stir, and reduce the heat to low.
~ Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, then remove from heat.
~ Grease a serving bowl and spoon the polenta into it; allow to stand for 15-20 minutes before turning out onto a serving plate.
~ Pile the polenta on plates with the black-eyed peas and (in a perfect world) some garlicky greens and dig in.