The Buttery Blog

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For the Love of Cumin June 20, 2009

Filed under: Regional-Southern,Salads,Vegetarian — butteryblog @ 8:42 pm
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Black-Eyed Pea Salad

Black-Eyed Pea Salad

My dad is probably the #1 fan of the black-eyed pea (the bean, not the band). He has a way of interweaving black-eyed peas into any conversation. So, when I went “home” recently for his birthday, I decided to make the award-winning Black-Eyed Pea Salad recipe from Cooking Light (which just so happens to be one of my new favorite magazines).

First stop: Publix (Florida’s grocery store chain). Except for the black-eyed peas, my dad didn’t have many of the ingredients necessary for this recipe. I landed in an aisle with a small shelf of spices and couldn’t believe that this huge suburban grocery store only had a handful to choose from. Another shopper noticed my bewilderment and when I told him I was looking for cumin, his eyes lit up. “That’s my favorite spice,” he said. He told me it added a zing to any food, especially mexican food. I told him that I was looking forward to discovering this newly-found spice. I picked up my 79¢ packet and was on my way.

As I stood in the check-out line, the man behind me, wearing camouflage and dirty baseball cap, said to me, “Excuse me, ma’am, I couldn’t help but notice you have cumin in your basket.” It felt a little like the twilight zone. This man told me the merits of cumin on meat and said that it was especially good on “pork butts.” Ah, as Ms. Butterpants said, you can’t beat the Redneck Riviera. Now home to find out what this cumin is all about!

Black-Eyed Pea Salad (with a few of my own variations on the original)

Ingredients

1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (next time I think I’ll try white wine vinegar)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
3 cups chopped peeled tomato (I didn’t peel the tomatoes and it was fine)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion (next time I’ll try a mild onion, like a scallion)
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (next time–less cilantro)
1 15-oz can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (I forgot to get this, so we’ll never know!)
Pita Chips (Publix didn’t have pita chips so I bought some flat bread and warmed it in the oven–soooo good!)

  1. Combine salt and garlic in a medium bowl; mash with a fork until a paste consistency.
  2. Add vinegar, oil and cumin, stirring with a whisk.
  3. Add tomato and next 4 ingredients (through pepper).
  4. Toss well
  5. Serve with pita chips (or warmed flatbread!)

Taste Test

A fresh and summery, easy-to-make salad. Perfect for picnics or parties! It’s sort of like a black-eyed pea salsa. I don’t think I’d make it for a side dish, but it is good as an appetizer. The rice wine vinegar, onion, and cilantro were slightly overpowering flavors, so next time, I’d try a milder vinegar (white wine) and onion (scallion), and probably use less cilantro. They were so overpowering that I couldn’t get a good sense of the cumin. Alas, Publix shoppers, if you’re out there reading this right now, I promise to give cumin another try! I also might use less tomatoes so that the black-eyed peas are the “star.” If this recipe makes it into your repertoire, I’d definitely ditch the store-bought pita chips and serve with something fresher.

♦ Buttery B

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