Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cooking Sea Island peas

In my column Wednesday, I wrote about using the internet as a portable recipe search. Here's the recipe I promised, from chef Ashley Christensen of Poole's Diner (and several other restaurants) in Raleigh. It ran in Bon Appetit magazine in February and I found it using the Epicurious.com app for iPhone.

Sea Island Red Peas With Celery Leaf Salad

2 cups dried Sea Island red peas or black-eyed peas
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
2 cloves garlic
6 springs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup celery leaves (from the inner stalks)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley (optional)
2 tablespoons thinly sliced chives
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
Freshly cracked black peppercorns

Place peas in a medium pot. Cover with 6 cups water. Soak 3 hours or overnight.

Bring water with peas to a boil (do not drain). Boil for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; simmer, adding water by 1/2 cupfuls if needed to keep peas covered. Cook peas until they're tender but still hold their shape, 20 to 25 minutes. (They'll cook a little more later.).

Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon salt. Taste and add more salt if needed. (Can be made ahead to this point. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm when ready to continue, adding a little more water if the cooking liquid is too thick.)

Place the garlic on a cutting board. Sprinkle with salt and chop, occasionally scraping up, until a coarse paste forms. (I crushed mine with salt in a mortar and pestle; it's a little quicker.) Tie the thyme and bay leaf in a bundle with kitchen twine.

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the garlic paste, thyme and bay leaf bundle, celery, onion and bell pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the peas and their cooking liquid. Bring to a simmer. Cook until the flavors meld and the sauce is thickened, 10 tp 15 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in butter. Set aside.

Toast the coriander seeds in a small, dry skillet over medium heat, 2 to 3 minutes. Cool. Coarsely grind in spice mill or crush with a rolling pin or the bottom of a heavy skillet.

Combine the celery leaves, parsley, chives, lemon zest and crushed corander seeds in a small bowl. Drizzle with a little oil and toss to coat. Season with salt and cracked pepper.

Serve the peas topped with a little of the celery leaf salad.

Makes about 8 servings.