A favorite in the South, crowder peas (also known as cow peas, poor man's peas, or China beans) aren't just for Hoppin' John on New Year's Eve. They make a great foundation for vegetarian soups, salads, and burgers. This recipe features them in a light but filling salad that tastes of spring. I used black-eyed peas, but any variety of crowder peas would work beautifully.
By the way, you can avoid that "canned" taste and a lot of sodium -- and save money -- by using dried beans and peas from the bulk bins instead of canned varieties. Just cook the dried legumes in boiling water, drain, and freeze portions in airtight bags. I usually put about 3 cups of cooked legumes in each bag. To thaw, just soak a bag-o-beans in hot tap water for ten minutes. (Microwaving works too, but it kills the nutrients in the beans.)
Warm Crowder Pea Salad with Green Herb Dressing
Green Herb Dressing:
1/2 cup mixed fresh herbs (such as oregano, thyme, chives, and sage)
1/3 cup onion, diced
1/3 cup white rice vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 Tbs honey
1 Tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp black pepper
Combine ingredients in blender and puree. Set aside.
1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
3 cups cooked, drained crowder peas
6 cups mixed salad greens
Saute onion, celery, and carrot in olive oil over medium heat until slightly tender (about 5 minutes.) Gently stir in crowder peas and heat until warm. Gently stir in 1/2 of Green Herb Dressing.
Arrange salad greens on large plates; top with crowder pea mixture and remaining dressing. Makes 3 dinner-sized servings.