Whenever I am out of black eyed peas, they are written as BEP on my shopping list. I only accept abbreviations when I'm abbreviating my own notes.

Coming from my students in the form of laziness, however...

Not quite an abbreviation, but I just had to include it.
I remember my grandmother making black eyed peas, in true southern style. It was probably accompanied strictly by bacon, which is the only vegetable flavoring used by my mother's family, to my recollection.

Black eyed peas cook quickly, which is nice if you are low on time. Many methods I saw when I was looking up recipes yesterday required a short boil, then a few hours sitting in the boiling water, and then cooking with the various ingredients. That has to be unneccesary, I thought to myself.

My pressure cooker cookbook revealed a "quick-soak" method I utilized recently; I decided to quick cook the beans to al dente first, and then simmer with the seasonings to cut down on that suggested cooking time.

I love Cajun and Creole flavors, and I took a shortcut with them here. I also took a shortcut with the grain. Normally, I make polenta from scratch, but I wanted an easy round shape that would hold together, so polenta from the tube is easiest. If you want to make polenta from scratch, look up a polenta recipe, cook it, chill it, and then cut it.

An additional shortcut would be to use canned tomatoes instead of fresh - do so if ripe, gorgeous tomatoes like these are not available. You need the tomatoes to release their juices, so anemic tomates will not do.

I give to you: 1 hour Cajun black eyed peas over fried polenta rounds. The black eyed peas cook perfectly, the creamy polenta taste balances the heat, and the flavors blend beautifully.

Pressure cooker required for the recipe - you can swap out canned black eyed peas or adjust the cooking time for dried beans.

[for the black eyed peas]
1 cup dried black eyed peas, or 2 cans drained and rinsed
1-2 tb olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 small jalapeno, seeded, membranes removed, and minced (use gloves or die!)
2-4 cloves minced garlic, depending on your preference
2 chopped medium tomatoes (should be ripe/good quality; swap out slightly drained canned tomatoes for anemic fresh tomatoes)
2-4 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (I like Emeril's, but it's also easy to make your own from his recipe)
1 cup broth (vegetable, no-chicken, or chicken - your preference; you might not use all of it)
1/2 to 1 cup chopped green of your choice (I used about 5 leaves of swiss chard)
[for the polenta rounds]
1 tube store-bought polenta, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
1-2 tb butter, salted or unsalted (or substitute oil of your choice)

  1. Bring black eyed peas to a boil in the pressure cooker. Cover and cook on high pressure for 2 minutes. Quick-release the pressure and drain beans.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and jalapeno, and saute until onion is softened and starts to brown.
  3. Add garlic and stir for about 30 seconds, until the aroma releases.
  4. Add tomatoes, seasoning, and beans; stir to combine.
  5. Add enough broth to just float the beans slightly - enough to create steam, but not so much to cover the beans. You don't want a lot of liquid.
  6. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the beans are done. You might need more time, depending on how cooked your beans are. 
  7. Lower the heat, and stir in the greens. Cook until they wilt, but be careful not to overcook them. 
  8. Make the polenta rounds: melt butter over medium heat. Being careful of spatter, cook polenta about 2 minutes on both sides. They do not brown, but rather absorb the flavor of the butter and soften. Drain on paper towels.
  9. Serve: top polenta rounds with a few spoonfuls of the bean mixture, and enjoy!
Note: there is no added salt in the recipe, because Cajun seasoning is usually very salty. You may want to add some with the tomatoes if you are using a low amount of seasoning, or if your chosen blend is low-salt. Canned BEP will add salt to the mixture as well.

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