Black-eyed peas are thought to be a lucky new year food in the South, and I’ve always enjoyed cooking with them at this time of year, as late December gives way to January. In the past few years, though, I’ve branched out and started to rely on them as an everyday staple legume. I love their subtly nutty flavor and aroma (I especially love using them in this dish, which includes the slightly surprising addition of peanut butter).
This easy side dish of vegan dirty rice & black-eyed peas happens to have come together right before New Year’s Eve, but I have a feeling I’ll be making it year round. It’s a flavorful, fast, and versatile base for simple dinners, burritos, and more. When I made it a few days ago, I served it with steamed collards, which are another good luck food in the Southern tradition. But I’m keen to try it with other greens, steamed or braised, and tonight I plan to top the leftovers with some of my vegan chick’n style soy curls.
Traditional dirty rice, from what I understand, usually starts with bacon or pork and includes celery, onion, green pepper, and cajun spices (paprika, thyme, pepper). I’m not sure how authentic this version is, but I tried to channel all of those flavors, and I used vegan bacon to add smoky flavor and flecks of texture throughout the rice. My favorite vegan bacon right now is Sweet Earth’s, but you could use a homemade tempeh bacon, eggplant bacon, coconut bacon, or a brand name that you love.
White rice is standard in the dish, but either white or brown long grain rice will work nicely in the dish. You’ll simply need to set aside a bit of extra cooking time if you choose brown instead of white. Vegan chicken style bouillon is a nice addition for saltiness, and I keep cubes in my pantry for when I don’t have stock on hand (also, to make those chick’n style soy curls). If you don’t have it, simply omit it from the recipe, adding salt in its place: the other seasonings add plenty of flavor as it is.
Yum—I love all of the smoky flavor here! If you’re near the end of a batch of leftovers, you could try using the last of the rice and peas in a stir fry, adding whatever vegetables you’re keen to use up as well. That’s likely what I’ll be up to tomorrow and on Sunday, as 2018 rolls in.
I’ll be back around in a couple of days for weekend reading, but if I don’t catch you then, I’m sending out warm and loving wishes now for a fulfilling, healthful, and peaceful new year. See you soon.