New Year’s Stew

 
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The new year is just a few days away people! That means it is time for all of you to plan on what you’ll be cooking. Now, if you own my cookbook you would know that I have a pretty killer Hoppin’ John Stew which is perfect for the occasion. However, because all of you don’t own my book (which makes me cry), I decided that I should have another perfect recipe for ringing in the new year. And this is it…My New Year’s Stew!

If you didn’t know, you’re supposed to eat black-eyed peas and greens for good luck in the new year. Think of it as an invitation for wealth and success to come into your life. Can’t hurt, right? Some say the greens represent money and the black-eyed peas represents pennies (wait a minute, pennies? Can’t we shoot higher than that!?). Others say to eat cornbread as it represents gold. I honestly don’t even need a reason to eat any of these things because I love them all! You ain’t gotta tell me twice to eat no damn peas with rice, tender greens, and cornbread! Please.

Aside from all of the luck and tradition, this dish was inspired from a recipe my mama would make for my father. It was basically braised cabbage with potatoes and sausage, a Polish classic. (If you didn’t know I am part Polish, now you do.) To veganize this dish, I used Beyond Sausage (not sponsored!) because the texture is incredible and the flavor is spot on. I like to add carrots for sweetness and tomatoes for some acidity. Green bell peppers and celery add freshness. Of course, by adding the black-eyed peas and collards, this becomes a New Year’s classic. So make sure to invite some friends over and enjoy this stew with fluffy white rice and large chunks of cornbread. Happy New Year!

New Year’s Stew

Serves 8 to 10 / Make half to serve 4 to 6

½ lb dried black-eyed peas or 2 cans, drained and rinsed
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped celery, including leaves
1 cup chopped carrots
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups new potatoes, cut into large chunks
1 small head green cabbage, roughly chopped (8 to 9 cups, packed)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
3 teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, less if desired
14 oz hot Italian plant-based sausage*
1 pint cherry tomatoes, whole
9 cups spring or filtered water
3 cups roughly chopped collard greens
Fluffy rice, to serve
Freshly chopped chives, to garnish

1. If you are using dried peas, you will need to soak and cook them. Hop on down to the closeup shot of the peas at the bottom of this post to learn how to do so. If you are using canned peas, simply open ‘em up and give them a good rinse. Set aside.

2. In a large pot (at least 7.25 quarts*), add onions, bell peppers, celery, carrots and a good drizzle of olive oil. Season with a few pinches of sea salt and pepper. Bring to medium heat and cook for about 7 minutes, until the vegetables become tender and juicy, stirring every so often.

3. Next add in the garlic, potatoes, cabbage, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, vinegar, tamari, sea salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Give it a good mix and cook for an additional 7 to 10 minutes, stirring every so often, until the cabbage becomes soft and tender and it smells delicious.

4. Add the sausage, tomatoes, black-eyed peas and water. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Cook at a low simmer with a cracked lid, stirring every so often, for about 20 to 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender to fork. Once done, throw in the collard greens and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until they become tender.

5. To serve, ladle the stew into bowls and garnish with fluffy white rice, freshly chopped chives, and a sprinkling of sea salt and black pepper. Hot sauce is welcome!

tips, tricks, and other tidbits

As I said, this recipe makes A LOT. I used a large 7.25 quart dutch oven and the full amount fit perfectly. If you do not have a pot this large, I would cut this recipe in half and you should have no problems.

When making rice, I would think 2 cups of dried would make enough for this recipe. To garnish, I would scoop about 1/3 cup of cooked rice on top. The rice is more of a garnish so the ratio of rice to stew should be more stew, you feel me? When cooking rice, at a bare minimum, I always throw in some sea salt, olive oil, pepper, rice vinegar and a few bay leaves. You should do the same as this makes for flavorful rice.

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I grew up eating Camellia beans and black-eyed peas, so they are very nostalgic to me. Funny enough, the packaging hasn’t changed since I was a little boy. Feel free to buy your peas from the bulk section, if you’d like, and if purchasing canned peas, I try to buy organic and non-BPA lined cans.

For this recipe, I strayed away from using too many herbs. I really wanted the flavor of the cabbage to shine through. Not to mention, the sausage has loads of flavor, which helps to season the stew. If you don’t like plant-based sausages, you can totally omit this ingredient. In that case, you might want to add some more salt and pepper to taste. If you’d like to use another brand other than Beyond Sausage, you could. However, I think it works perfectly with this recipe so that wouldn’t be ideal. ;)

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I like this stew because it is so hearty. See those big chunks of cabbage? Don’t worry, they become tender and succulent. This is the perfect contrast to large chunks of boiled potatoes and dark green strips of collard greens. The black-eyed peas provide little plump pops of texture and flavor. Cute, right? When serving soups and stews, I always like to sprinkle on top some sea salt and pepper for an extra kick of flavor to enhance the dish.

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how to cook dried black eyed peas

If you ask me, cooking dried peas and beans can be quite therapeutic. Sorting, rinsing, soaking. I love it! Of course, they also taste better than canned and rightfully so. You showed them some extra TLC and any pea or bean will appreciate that. Some require more time to soak and take longer to cook, so these instructions may vary for other varieties. Right now, let’s just focus on black eyed peas, as they take less time to soak and cook than most and we’re using them in the recipe.

I like to soak my peas overnight. First, sort through them and remove any weird pieces or anything other than peas. Then cover the peas with a few inches of water. This allows the water to slowly absorb into the peas which allows them to cook evenly and more quickly. This also draws out some of the phytic acid, which can cause bloating. If you are strapped for time but would still like to do this, you can do a quick soak. Simply throw the beans in a medium sized pot and cover with an inch or two of water. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Cover with the lid and let the peas steep for 30 minutes. Drain the peas and rinse them well.

To cook, transfer the drained peas back to the pot and cover with fresh water. Throw in a piece of kombu (dried seaweed- for flavor and to help aid in digestion), a bay leaf or two, and bring to a boil. No salt as this will make them tough! (Sometimes I’ll add a splash of vinegar and a drizzle of olive oil, it really just depends on my mood.) Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring every so often until the peas are tender. Done!

You can then drain the peas and add them to a recipe. Or you can store the peas in a jar with the cooking liquid for a few days. If using for a soup or a stew, feel free to use some of the cooking liquid as it has good flavor as well.