Friday, June 14, 2013

Jae's Southern Bowl - Chipotle Black-Eyed Peas with Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Collard Greens...

Today I wanted to share with you a meal that I’ve been enjoying quite a lot lately. Actually I first made this dish back in April but it quickly became a favorite and a staple. It’s both super simple, and yet loaded with amazing flavor. This dish really inspired me to rethink food and how to prepare a meal. As much as I love fancy food and spending a lot of time in the kitchen, sometimes all you want and all you need is good, clean, and hearty nutrition to fuel you through your day. At least that’s all I’ve been wanting lately, and trust me when I tell you that as simple as this dish looks, it’s super satisfying and filling. It’s the kind of meal you can feel good about eating because you know everything in it is good for you.

Before I get into the recipe let me start by saying “Get It Ripe” by Jae Steele is a cook book I’ve owned for years and yet hardly ever use. I bought it in my favorite used book store back when I first went vegetarian and honestly it was just a little too over my head at the time. The recipes themselves are not particularly complicated I just didn’t know what the hell spelt flour was, or millet, or why I should use brown rice syrup! These days of course I’m an old pro, I’m not intimidated by strange sounding ingredients, these days most of them are regular features in my pantry. Still this is an often overlooked book in my collection for the simple fact that my cook book collection is so large. I have definite ‘go-to’ cook books that I use quite frequently, but every now and then I get tired of them and so I go through the shelves to look for that one book I never use that suddenly inspires me. Back in April that was “Get it Ripe” and the first thing I made out of it after dusting it off was this amazing Southern Bowl which contains - Chipotle Black-Eyed Peas, with Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Collard Greens. Even though I wasn’t much of a bean lover when I first bought this book, this was always the number one recipe that stood out to me. I’ve always wanted to make it, and so I finally did. Honestly I don’t know what took me so long because this dish is fan-freaking-tastic. It is so mouth-watering good, the beans alone will blow your mind and you can eat them straight out of the pot they’re that amazing. There are definitely a couple of steps to this dish but say you make a big pot of the beans on a Sunday, the rest is pretty easy to throw together for a quick weekday lunch or dinner.

The black-eyes peas are simmered with olive oil, garlic, onion, celery, zucchini, chipotle, allspice, bay leaves, sea salt, and vegetable broth or water. The first time I made this I used vegetable broth, and the other times I made this using water, and honestly the beans are so flavorful that you can use water and they’re not bland at all. They’re so rich, and even a bit creamy, and they have a perfect level of spice from the chipotles. I mean really, chipotles and beans they were meant to be together.

Then you layer those delicious mouth-watering beans on some soft, and creamy mashed sweet potatoes and you’re in food heaven. Jae makes her sweet potatoes with coconut oil, sea salt, non-dairy milk, maple syrup and black pepper. The coconut oil is amazing in them and lends a really light coconuty flavor that’s the perfect accompaniment to the slightly spicy beans. Now, I’ve had a lot of mashed sweet potatoes in my time, hell I’ve had a lot of coconut mashed sweet potatoes in my time but seriously these are some of the best I’ve ever had anywhere.

Lastly you add in one whole bunch of simply and lightly steamed collard greens. I know that doesn’t sound like anything special but when you mix ‘em in with the sweet potatoes and some saucy spicy beans well you have a flavor explosion. The slightly bitter greens are well complimented with the sweet and spicy flavors of the rest of the dish, and once you eat all three components together you can’t really imagine eating any one part separate. You truly need to have the three together to create magic.

This dish, is really one of the most perfect examples I’ve ever found of just how amazing simple vegan fare can be.

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