Having never cooked turnip greens before, I wasn’t sure what to do with them when I received a large bunch of it in my CSA box last week. My mind turned toward the American South where eating turnip greens is a favorite in many homes. I had about a cup of dried black-eyed peas in a jar that I wanted to use up and was reminded of a Southern dish I made in January, around New Year’s Day. For luck and prosperity, American Southerners traditionally eat black-eyed peas and greens on New Year’s Day. Black-eyed peas represent coins and greens (collards, mustard or turnip) represent paper money. When stewed with tomatoes black-eyed peas represent wealth and health. Whether or not this new year folk lore has any truth, it is a fact that black-eyed peas—rich in calcium, magnesium and iron—can benefit your health and who knows, maybe wealth too! 😉
The black-eyed peas dish from January (for New Years Day), was a stew made with a blend of spices inspired from Indian cuisine. This time I “traveled” to Africa and flavored my dish with berbere (an Ethiopian red chile spice blend), ginger, turmeric and coconut milk. Creamy and complex, this recipe is adapted from Ethiopian/Swiss celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson. Turnip greens are a bit bitter in flavor so if you use them I’d suggest adding only a cup. You could also substitute turnip greens with kale, spinach, chard or collard greens. Also, I prefer to use dried peas (I think they taste better), but if you’re in a pinch for time feel free to use canned black-eyed peas. This dish can be eaten with farro, barley, rice or any other grain of choice.
Spicy Black-Eyed Peas with Greens
1 cup dried black-eyed peas (or 1 can will be fine)
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
1 small or 1/2 large red onion, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4-1/2 habanero or Scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and minced*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 -1 teaspoon or more berbere
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
3/4 cup or more vegetable stock
3/4 cup or more unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup turnip greens, washed, stems removed and chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, plus more for garnish
1 scallion, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
salt and freshly ground pepper
In a large saucepan, cover the peas with plenty of water, add bay leaf and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, over moderately low heat until tender, about an hour. After about 40-45 minutes, add a generous pinch of salt. Continue to cook until tender then remove from heat, let stand for 5 minutes, then drain well. If you’re using canned black-eyed peas, you can skip this step. Simply rinse and drain canned black-eyed peas and proceed with the instructions below.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook until tender, then add ginger, garlic, chile and salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the berbere and turmeric and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the stock and coconut milk and bring to a boil then simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and the sauce thickens a bit, about 20 minutes.
Add the peas to the sauce and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until the peas are lightly coated, about 10 minutes. Adjust consistency by adding more stock and/or coconut milk. Taste and adjust seasoning (salt, berbere, etc). Fold in greens, then cilantro and scallions. Garnish with cilantro and scallions and serve. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.
*Note: depending on the level of heat I want, I’ve made this dish with and without the habanero pepper. Also Start with a small amount of berbere then you can increase if preferred.