Posted by: Rachel | August 21, 2010

who knew?

Early summer around here means greens, but late August in central Texas can put a dent in the greens scene. My friends out at Johnson’s have made a delicious discovery, though, and it makes me very happy.

Apparently, if I understood correctly, one of their volunteers or interns is recently back from China, where sweet potatoes are fed to pigs and the sweet potato vine’s leaves are eaten by people. Wow, who knew? When I saw the leaves at their stand at the Farmer’s Market, and was told that they cook up and taste pretty much like kale, I really had no choice but to buy a bunch and test them out.

Now, shifting continents briefly, when I was in Greece a few years ago I discovered that pretty much every small taverna served their own version of “horta” (yup, as in horticulture). This generic offering covers a world of cooked greens, either from the market or what grandma picked from her yard that morning. One place, though, surprised me by offering me a plate of greens mixed with…. black-eyed peas! I was *not* expecting to see black-eyed peas, but it made me happy. I tasted it and it took me a few bites to figure out that what I was loving, in addition to the greens and “peas”, was a bit of dill.

I think dill is vastly under-appreciated. OK, play along now – when I say “dill” what do you think of first? I’m betting it is either “pickles” or “salmon”, depending on your personal bent. In any event, I bet it isn’t greens and black-eyed peas!

Once I snapped to the dill, which really was out of context to my palate, the rest of the dish was pretty straight-forward. I made it when I got back. Easy, and very tasty… but my friend I shared this dinner with told me that she hated, I mean *hated* black-eyed peas. She says they taste like dirt to her. Hmmm. So, I reworked the recipe using chick peas and cannellini beans. Still reminiscent of what I ate in Greece, very yummy, and (shhh) good for you. I’m offering the reworked recipe here, but if you *do* like black-eyed peas, sub them back in for the legumes and you’ll be fine.

“Greek” Peas

a nice mix of greens and beans

and it tastes even better

1 onion, chopped relatively fine
olive oil
1 t cinnamon
1 good bunch spinach, well cleaned
1 good bunch sweet potato greens (or kale), well cleaned
1 can “fire-roasted” tomatoes
2 cans chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 T fresh dill (or more if you like)
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper

In a large heavy pot, sautée the onion in the olive oil. Once the onion is translucent, add the cinnamon and stir well. Add the greens and wilt them down. Add the tomatoes and peas/beans and the dill. Stir to mix well. Cook over low heat for an hour or so. Add fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, stir well and enjoy!

See? Very easy, and one of those recipes that allows for a world of variations. This will keep in the fridge for several days, freezes well, or you can treat it like that proverbial pot of soup and just add to it from time to time. I think that may be what they do in the tavernas. Kalí óreksi!! (Bon appetit!)


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