One of my favorite vegan cookbooks is a hard-to-find slim paperback called Cookin' Southern, Vegetarian Style, by Ann Jackson. The recipes are flawless, everything in it is delicious. Jackson inventively takes vegan ingredients and makes classic Southern dishes, without sacrificing any richness or flavor from the original meat-y versions.
In this recipe, for Black-Eyed Peas and "Fatback," aka Hoppin' John, she creates a marinade for the "fatback" out of tamari, sesame oil and Pick-A-Peppa steak sauce that gives the tofu an unbelievably rich flavor. For those who think that vegan Southern food can't be done well, I urge you to try this book, or Jackson's second book, Heart of the Home.
I'm making the Hoppin' John dish this week for New Year's Day.. black-eyed peas and greens are supposed to bring luck, money and health for the new year. The Evans Farm (next to the Taste Cart) grows their black-eyed peas and collard greens a couple hours north of St. Pete, and I am so looking forward to trying this dish with fresh, local peas. Come visit at the Saturday Morning Market to taste this vegan Hoppin' John, and get your black-eyed peas from hard-working local farmers to spread the luck and wealth in this New Year!
Black-Eyed Peas and "Fatback": Hoppin' John
Recipe by Ann Jackson, from Cookin' Southern, Vegetarian Style
1 pound block of firm tofu
2-3 cups black-eyed peas, washed and picked through
1 white onion, chopped
2 t ketchup (optional)
1/2 t dried savory
1 t salt
Pepper to taste
1/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup water
2 t dry mustard
2 t Pick-a-Peppa sauce (or Worcestershire sauce, A-1, or Perkin’s Steak Sauce)
1-2 cloves garlic
2 T toasted sesame oil
Combine marinade ingredients. Cut the tofu into squares and marinate for at least an hour, the longer the better.
Put the black-eyed peas in a pot with enough water to cover them, bring to a boil, and add the onion, ketchup, and savory. Turn down the heat and let simmer for about 45 minutes. When the peas are half done, add the tofu and the rest of the marinade, the salt and pepper. Continue simmering and stir gently until the peas are soft.
Serve this with hush-puppies or cornbread, collard greens, and boiled potatoes for good luck on New Year’s Day.
From, Cookin’ Southern, Vegetarian Style, by Ann Jackson. Also check out her cookbook, Heart of the Home.
Imambaldi, or Imam Bayildi, or as I thought it was called growing up, "mumbaldi," is a Turkish stewed eggplant dish that is incredibly simple, and deceptively good. I recently learned that the name means "the Imam cried," because legend has it that this last-minute dish served to him was so good. According to the Internet, Imam Bayildi is said to be a stuffed eggplant dish, but my mother always made it this way which is much simpler (and I would bet, even more satisfying). My mother learned this dish from her mother-in-law, whose husband spent time living in Turkey. She would serve it as an appetizer with bread, to soak up the savory oil. Years later, we would toss Imambaldi with pasta for dinner. It could also easily be served with rice, lentils and greens for a delicious whole meal.
Imambaldi: Turkish Stewed Eggplant, Onion and Tomato
1/2 cup olive oil (or vegetable oil)
2 medium eggplants (or 1 large), peeled and sliced in rounds
2 medium onions, halved and sliced
3/4 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (or 3 large tomatoes, quartered)
1 t salt, or more to taste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Layer the eggplant and onion slices in a large pot with the olive oil, cook on med-high heat, stir occasionally. When it starts to cook, add the tomatoes and salt. Reduce heat to low, stir occasionally, cook for 45 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in vinegar. Serve at room temperature with toasted bread or a flatbread.
I’ve had Fattoush on my mind lately.
There’s really not a better salad to feature all the lovely vegetables and herbs that are in season now at the farmer’s market in Florida. Fattoush is less about the lettuce than it is about the fresh cucumbers, mint, radishes, and the nice crunch of toasted pita lightly covered in a lemony-vinaigrette. But the secret flavor in Fattoush is sumac. If you’re not familiar, sumac is a deep-red dried powdered herb that gives many Middle Eastern dishes that flavor that makes you pucker a little, and come back for more. It tastes tart, a little like lemon but less astringent. It is also the secret ingredient in Zaatar - a spice mix of thyme, sesame seed and sumac that is made into a paste with olive oil and spread on pita for a true party for your taste buds! If you have Zaatar but not sumac at home, you can substitute it in this recipe.
If you are in St. Petersburg and wondering where to get sumac, Zaatar and pomegranate molasses.. Cedar’s market on 54th Ave N, near 65th St. has it. If you’re in Sarasota, try Sahara restaurant on 41, just north of Bahia Vista.
To make this recipe gluten-free, I used Sami’s Millet and Flax pita chips. Sami’s is a Tampa-based bakery that supplies a lot of our local stores with great vegan and gluten-free baked goods.
1 head romaine lettuce (or similar lettuce), chopped
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
6 radishes, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/4 red onion, sliced thin (optional)
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 bunch mint, chopped
Several large gluten-free pita chips (Sami’s millet and flax chips), broken in pieces
1 t sumac
4 T olive oil
1 T lemon juice
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T pomegranate molasses
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a bowl, add the rest of the salad ingredients. Sprinkle sumac over everything and toss.