Food & Drink

Combinations: A smoky-sweet dressing takes this black-eyed-pea dish to another level

Black-Eyed Peas With Oranges and Chipotle. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post.
Black-Eyed Peas With Oranges and Chipotle. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post.

Some ingredients seem born to go together. Apples and cheddar. Watermelon and feta. Chocolate and tahini.

I’m not sure what genius first combined oranges and chipotle, but it had to have been in Mexico, soon after Columbus brought oranges to the Americas, since smoked chiles such as chipotle date to the Aztecs. Whoever it was, I applaud them, because the combination of the sweet-and-sour orange and the smoky-spicy chipotle is sheer perfection.

I was reminded of all this when I saw a recipe for Black-Eyed Peas with Oranges and Chipotle in Ilene Rosen’s new book, “Saladish” (Artisan, 2018). She pitches it as a twist on the South’s traditional New Year’s dish, but it’s ideal for any time you come across good oranges. She calls for blood oranges, which I’m sure would be beautiful here, but my beloved Cara Cara oranges were available instead, so I grabbed those for their deep-pink flesh. Navels would be fine, too.

You cut up the oranges and make the dressing while the black-eyed peas cook (although I’d forgive you for using canned peas). Besides protein and other nutrients, the legumes offer another taste dimension: earthy. But the dressing is the star. It’s so good I made only one major adjustment, and that was to make more of it.

Black-Eyed Peas With Oranges and Chipotle

8 servings (makes about 8 cups), Healthy

This salad strikes all the right notes: spicy, sweet, sour and a little earthy.

MAKE AHEAD: The dressing can be refrigerated for 1 week before making the rest of the dish. The cooked beans are best stored in their cooking liquid: refrigerated for 1 week or frozen for 6 months; defrost and drain before using. The prepared dish can be refrigerated for 5 days.

1 pound dried black-eyed peas, picked over and rinsed (may substitute 6 cups canned, no-salt-added black-eyed peas)

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed

4 blood oranges or 3 medium navel or Cara Cara oranges

1 or 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo, plus 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce, or more as needed

1 tablespoon rice vinegar (seasoned or unseasoned)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2/3 cup sunflower, canola or another neutrally flavored vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more as needed

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1/2 cup lightly packed cilantro (leaves and tender stems), plus more for garnish

Bring the black-eyed peas to a boil in a large pot of water over high heat. Reduce the heat until the liquid is gently bubbling; cook until they are tender but not mushy, 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on their age. (It’s hard to know how old dried legumes are, and the older they are, the longer they take to cook.) Add 1 teaspoon of the salt to the water toward the end of the cooking time. Drain thoroughly and transfer to a large bowl. (If you are using canned black-eyed peas, drain and rinse them, transfer them to the bowl and stir in just 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.)

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While the peas are cooking, prepare the oranges: Use a Microplane or other fine grater to remove 1 1/2 tablespoons zest. Use a sharp knife to cut all the peel and any white pith off the oranges, then, working over a bowl, cut between the segments (to make supremes), letting them fall into the bowl as you work. Squeeze the juice from the remaining membranes, reserving 1/3 cup.

To make the dressing, combine the orange zest and reserved juice, chipotle (to taste) and adobo, vinegar and mustard in a food processor or in a blender; pulse to incorporate. With the motor running, gradually add the oil, pureeing to form a smooth dressing. Add the black pepper and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt; pulse to incorporate, taste and add more salt, as needed.

Add the red onion, supremed orange segments, all the dressing and 1/2 cup of the cilantro to the bowl with the black-eyed peas and toss to coat evenly. Taste, and add more salt, black pepper and/or adobo, as needed.

Garnish with more cilantro and serve.

Nutrition | Per serving (using plain rice vinegar): 330 calories, 10 g protein, 33 g carbohydrates, 20 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 320 mg sodium, 8 g dietary fiber, 7 g sugar

Source: Adapted from “Saladish: A Crunchier, Grainier, Herbier, Heartier, Tastier Way With Vegetables,” by Ilene Rosen (Artisan, 2018).

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