I’m having a blast with Veganomicon, a cookbook that arrived on my doorstep one dreary afternoon from the sunnier climes of Berkeley. I had a bit part in helping its sender find an apartment in Syracuse, and I can’t wait to try more of its recipes out on her when she arrives. It’s my first vegan cookbook, and so far it is proving itself a mighty contender beside the omnivore-focused books on my shelf. Filled with recipes that are sure to stun even the most die-hard flesh eater, this book promises no end of fun with my favorite food group.
New York is the furthest South I’ve lived in North America, yet still miles away from the soul of Southern cookery. But since I’m a sucker for smoke (give me bonfire-perfumed sweaters, lapsang souchong tea, smoked cheeses and fish any day), Southern cooking seems right up my alley. So, wanting to branch into Southern cuisine a little more, the BBQ Black-Eyed Pea Collard Rolls jumped to the top of my list of things to try. I don’t know what exactly drew me to the recipe—something about it sounded smoky and satisfying, and different from how I normally cook.
My only contact with smoky food was purely of the accidental sort, up until landing a job at the Ouisi Bistro in Vancouver. There I was introduced to Cajun and Creole cooking, slinging their marinated Alligator, Andouille gumbo, and Jambalaya for eight months straight. And their cornbread? I left Vancouver carrying 12 extra pounds of it. Some souvenirs are tough to lose, even when they’re strapped right around your belly.
But onto the recipe: Black-eyed peas star in the famous Southern dish, Hoppin’ John. Eaten on New Year’s Day, the dish is thought to be lucky and is consumed widely. The beans’ characteristic markings are supposed to symbolize coins; when your plate runneth over your proverbial cup is said to follow suit. Collard greens, large cabbage-like leaves, are often served alongside Hoppin’ John. In this recipe, they star right alongside the beans, wrapping them tenderly like a rotund grandmother.
Now for the fun part. According to Wikipedia, on the day after New Year’s Day, leftover Hoppin’ John is called Skippin’ Jenny and shows a continuing frugality supposed to last throughout the year. Little did I know I had a namesake dish!
I happen to like Skippin’ Jenny much better than BBQ Black Eyed Pea Collard Rolls. My apologies to the cookbook’s authors Isa and Terry, but I might just have to re-christen your creation. After all, your lighter, greener, more vegged-out version is quite likely to make this Northern cook want to skip. I promise I’ll give you credit.
serves 3-4, with accompaniments
1 bunch of collard greens, 12 of the leaves set aside for rolling (pick out the biggest, nicest leaves of the bunch)
1 tsp oil
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced thinly
4 cups chopped collards
1 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed (1.5 cups)
3 cups Backyard BBQ Sauce, recipe to follow.
- Slice off the stems of 12 nice collard leaves (run a knife alongside either side of the stem and then cut it out of the leaf). Boil a large pot of water. Submerge the 12 collard leaves into the boiling water and cook for 6 minutes. When done, use tongs to transfer them to a strainer and let cool. Handle with care!
- Preheat a large skillet over medium, and cook the mushrooms in the oil for 5 minutes. Add the chopped collards. Cook for 7-10 minutes until the moisture has cooked off. Add the peas and cook through. Pour on 2 cups of the BBQ sauce and cook until the wateriness is gone. (5-10 minutes). Let cool a smidgen.
- Place a collard on a flat work surface with the side that has not been sliced facing you. Place some of the black-eyed peas mixture in the lower third of the collard. How much you put in will determine the size of the roll: Go big for a main, smaller for a side. (See picture for example of smaller rolls…next time I’d make them bigger.) Fold the bottom up over the mixture, then fold in the sides. Roll the collard up, gently but firmly.
- Roll all the collards. When ready to serve, spoon extra BBQ sauce over the rolls.
Per 1/4 recipe: 225.5 calories, 3 g fat, 41.7 carbs, 8 g fiber, 11.3 protein.
Easy-Peasy Backyard BBQ Sauce
makes 4 cups
1 T canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped very finely
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp red pepper flakes (or hot sauce or cayenne)
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/3 cup molasses (or maple syrup or sugar if you don’t have or like molasses)
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 T sugar
1 T yellow mustard
2 tsp liquid smoke (find in the condiments section)
- Preheat a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onions in the oil until browned, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add all ingredients from salt through sugar, and cook from 30 minutes to an hour, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat if the sauce begins to splatter.
- Add the mustard and liquid smoke, and taste. Adjust the flavours if you prefer it sweeter or more sour, and cook for another 5 minutes. If you like your BBQ sauce smooth, grab your blender and puree, but it’s still yummy as a chunky sauce.
courtesy of Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook