Thunderstorms daily roll through and green the evening sky; feels like New Orleans, or the end of the world. I am writing this from a room in the house where the view from the front window would have me think it is night, while a glance out the back window shows me daylight. Eerie limbo when clouds can sever a house with their own midday horizon. There was a flash flood warning last night, and we appropriately life-jacketed Izzy for disaster. Somehow her neck seems to have grown thicker since last she wore her bulldog life preserver.
This stormy humid summer weather has me in the mood for light Southern-style dinners. Easy salads are perfect also because I’m trying not to make too much of a mess in the house with my parents coming to town today. In fact, my hands are raw from Windexing every surface in the house within inches of its former life. I’m thinking about inviting everyone I know to the house just to prove that in fact I do know how to clean, I just choose to sleep instead.
Black-Eyed Pea Salad with Corn Bread Croutons
Adapted from Food and Wine
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
Pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 ounces bacon, cut into 1/4 -inch-dice
2 1/4 cups dried black-eyed peas (15 ounces)
2 quarts chicken stock or low-sodium broth
5 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon hot sauce
Red pepper flakes as desired
1 bunch watercress (6 ounces), tough stems discarded, or spinach (yeah folate!)
Freshly ground white pepper
Cut half of the corn bread into 1/2-inch cubes; reserve the rest for another use.
MEANWHILE, MAKE THE VINAIGRETTE In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients and season with salt. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
PREPARE THE BLACK-EYED PEAS In a large pot, heat the olive oil oil. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the peas, stock, thyme and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the peas are tender, about 45 minutes. Drain the peas and discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf; reserve the cooking liquid for another use.
Transfer the peas to a large bowl and stir in the butter, lemon juice and hot sauce. Season with some of the vinaigrette. Add the watercress, season with salt and white pepper and toss. Transfer the salad to plates and garnish with the corn bread croutons. Serve the extra vinaigrette on the side.
Don’t look so sad, precious. The sun’ll come out tomorrow. Bet you bottom dollar.