Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thursday Night Summer Supper

Broiled Dorado with Lemon
Black-Eyed Pea Salad with Balsamic Ginger Vinaigrette
A simple meal made special by the salad, which I found in Beans, Greens and Sweet Georgia Peaches by Damon Lee Fowler. I make Craig Claiborne's Black Eyed Peas Vinaigrette each New Year's, but I this recipe may replace it - the ginger in the vinaigrette gives the salad a fresh kick.
Here is the recipe as it appears in the cookbook. My notes are in parentheses.
Black-Eyed Pea Salad
serves four generously

2 cups (12 oz.) dried black-eyed peas
3 ham hocks (my version is vegetarian, see instructions)
1/2 medium red bell pepper, diced
1/2 medium yellow bell pepper, diced
1 shallot, chopped
1/4 small Vidalia onion, chopped
1 tbsp. chives, chopped
1 recipe Balsamic-Ginger Vinaigrette
8 to 10 fresh basil leaves

1. Rinse and sort the peas and soak overnight. Drain them and set them aside. Put the ham hocks in a 4-quart pot. (Instead of ham hocks, I cooked the peas with a couple of bay leaves and a whole onion studded with four whole cloves). Add 2 quarts water and bring the liquid to a boil over medium heat, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 hour.

2. Add the peas to the pot and raise the heat to bring the liquid back to the boiling point. Reduce the heat once more to low and simmer (covered) until the peas are tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The peas should remain covered with water, so keep a teakettle of simmering water handy in case more water needs to be added to the pot. (Mr. Fowler must have access to non-foaming peas. I skimmed the gray scummy stuff frequently, just like with stock, and kept the fire at a gentle simmer. This method yielded pretty, clean peas.)

3. Drain the peas, discarding the ham hocks. Allow the peas to cool, then mix them with the red and yellow peppers, shallot, onion and chives. (I used a single red pepper and skipped the chives.) Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until well mixed. The salad can be made a day or two ahead of time. Chill it until you are ready to serve it. (I think it's best at room temp.)

4. Just before serving, cut the basil into chiffonade (fine shreds) and strew it over the top of the salad. Serve cold. (I skipped the basil as well and it turned out fine.)

Balsamic-Ginger Vinaigrette

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp. finely minced fresh ginger root
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine the two vinegars, ginger, mustard and sugar in a glass or stainless mixing bowl. Add a small pinch of salt (to help the oil emulsify). Whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, a few drops a a time, until it is all incorporated and emulsified. Season to taste with more salt, if needed, and a few liberal grindings of black pepper. (I used chopped crystallized ginger instead of fresh, which gave mine a milder, white girl heat).

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