Almost as soon as you turn twenty six everyone you know decides to get married.
And they do it without even a care in the world or an ounce of concern for your checking account. All in one summer.
So while they are busy deciding whether lilies or tulips go better with their off-white tablecloths and where exactly their “something blue” is going to come from…
…you are busy figuring out how you’re going to obtain a disposable income large enough to accommodate five weddings – all out of state, mind you – without getting scurvy.
Pretty much as soon as December hit and I realized that we had received FIVE save-the-dates, I took some emergency actions. The first of which was to sign up for Rancho Gordo’s year of beans.
Because if there’s any protein source that gives you the ultimate bang for your buck, it’s the almighty legume. (And also…the thought of getting a package full of six pounds of beans every three months kind of makes me giddy. Please tell me I’m not alone in this.)
Anyway, now that I have this steady supply of beans I am always looking for new ways to use them up, so when I was asked to review The Great Vegan Bean Book, a new cookbook by Kathy Hester and photographed by Renee Comet, AND to take part in their Great Vegan Bean Blog Tour…I was all.over.it.
The recipe I chose to make was for cajun-spiced black eyed peas served atop creamy dreamy vegan grit cakes. Yep, they are pretty much as delicious as they sound. The beans have the perfect amount of spice to get your taste buds all excited but not so much that you’re crying into your bowl from the heat. And what is there not to love about grit cakes? Correct answer – nothing.
You’ll notice that I didn’t exactly use black-eyed peas, but I actually couldn’t find any that weren’t canned, so I just decided to use a bean variety that I had on hand – red nightfall beans. I also added in some summer squash because, well, tis the season. Even with my modifications, this was a craveworthy dinner and I couldn’t wait to have the leftovers the next day!
If you’re looking to include more meatless meals in your life, The Great Vegan Bean Book is full of delicious options and I can’t wait to try out some of the other recipes in the book, including (but definitely not limited to) the crispy chickpea patties and cornbread waffles, margarita chili beans, and the pineapple rum beans over coconut lime sweet potatoes.
One year ago…Gingered Pea Tea Sandwiches with Ricotta
Three years ago..Roast Pork Loin with Grilled Peaches and Wildflower Honey Vinaigrette
Four years ago…Loaded Sweet Potatoes
- ½ lb dried black-eyed peas (or other similar bean)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 bay leaves
- 6 cups water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2-3 tsp Cajun spice blend (see recipe below)
- a few drops of liquid smoke
- chipotle chili powder to taste
- smoked salt, jalapeno salt, or sea salt, to taste
- 2 summer squash, quartered and sliced
- 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
- 2 cups water
- 1 veggie bouillon cube
- 1 cup grits (not instant or quick cooking!)
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp marjoram
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ⅛ tsp cloves
- Soak the beans overnight in room temperature water. The next morning, add the soaked beans, garlic, bay leaves, and water to a medium soup pot. Bring to a boil and then decrease the heat to medium low and cover. Cook until beans are tender. Drain and remove the bay leaves.
- In a large nonstick saucepan, heat a tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add in the summer squash along with the Cajun spice blend, liquid smoke, chipotle chili powder, and a pinch of salt. Saute until tender. Add in the beans to heat through and season to taste. Set aside.
- For the grit cakes, preheat the oven to 350. Line a 9x13-inch pan with parchment paper.
- Add the milk, water, and bouillon to a heavy saucepan. Bring it almost to a boil and then decrease to a simmer. Slowly stir in the grits. Stir every five minutes for 30-40 minutes or until you taste the grits and they are no longer hard. Add in a pinch of salt, to taste.
- Remove the grits from the heat and spread onto the parchment lined sheet pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Cut into squares and served topped with the beans, and hot sauce on the side.
- To make the Cajun spice blend, grind all of the ingredients together in a spice grinder, coffee grinder, or small food processor for about 10 minutes or until the whole bay leaf gets ground up.