Black-Eyed Peas with Mushrooms

Black Eyed Peas with MushroomsMy Grandmother Doris was from Missouri and moved out west after the family farm failed during the Dust Bowl.  So, why is it that I never, until my adult years, wrapped my lips around a black-eyed pea?  Guess she just didn’t like them or something… Once I tried them, I was sold.  As it turns out, there is a good reason that there are so many of these suckers grown and eaten every year.

Black-eyed peas are creamy in texture, musky in taste and take a variety of spice additions in stride.  They provide a really nice addition to your legume repertoire.  Combine this with some mushrooms sautéed in spice and you have an almost meaty dish.   I scabbed this recipe from 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer.  Really excellent book, especially if you like legume and vegetarian curries and aren’t reliant on photos…. 

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Tofu with MIso Mushroom Sauce

Often served in proportions similar to the main dish, once concocted, this side has remained a “go to” side for us; almost a food group in its own right.  It is much, much more some cubed up tofu smothered with a sauce.  I think what makes this dish remarkable is the complex interlacing of the flavors and textures, the creamy freshness of the tofu, the astringent bite and heat of the chili oil, the saltiness and bitter edge of miso and walnuts, and the earthiness of the mushrooms.  Hit this with some crunchy scallions and some peanuts to complete the effect.  There is a lot going on here and, as a result, this conspiracy of goodness ends up being entirely satisfying and extremely filling.  Hats off to Mrs. Fuji, author of The Enlightened Kitchen: Fresh Vegetable Dishes from the Temples of Japan, as her work formed the base idea for the mushroom sauce used here…. 

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