Monday, August 12, 2013

Cajun Black-Eyed Peas with Collards and Tempeh - Lucky Me Stew

Cajun Black-Eyed Peas with Collards and Tempeh - Lucky Me Stew
I am slightly obsessed with keeping things around the apartment in their rightful place. When things are out of place, I feel out of place. Feeling this way makes me anxious. I don't like it. To prevent that from happening, I started to organize one thing or one place in my apartment, at least once a week. The thing or the place can be small (example: kitchen junk drawer) or big (example: the closet). It is quite telling -  about myself - that I find a new thing or place, to organize each week. Sometimes, meaning often, I skip a week or two or three, but get back to the organizing routine eventually.

Spice forest. All that unused space on top breaks my heart. 
How does this recipe relate to my story? This week, I organized the spice cabinet. I found an unopened cajun seasoning container lodged between Mister Turmeric and Miss Cinnamon, hence this stew creation featuring cajun seasoning.

Interesting fact: black-eyed peas are used in cajun cooking. They also echo the idea of good luck in Southern culture, specifically when prepared during the New Year. I need a little bit of luck right now. Let's hope the legend is true. Cheers!
Cooking time: 1.5 hours
Cajun Black-Eyed Peas with Collards and Tempeh - Lucky Me Stew (Makes about 12 servings)

1 pound dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
1 (8-oz package) gluten free organic tempeh or tempeh of choice, crumbled
1 (28-oz can) diced tomatoes
1 bunch green collards, rough stems removed, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil, divided
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
1 small bell pepper (any color), stem and seeds removed, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons liquid smoke (Don't panic if you can't find it. *See note below)
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons cajun seasoning (Look for MSG free label if possible)
4 cups vegetable broth or water (Add another 1/2 cup during cooking if too thick depending on preference)
Hot sauce to taste (optional)

In a large soup pot, over a medium heat, sauté the onion, bell pepper and celery in 1 tablespoon of oil, for about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stir often. Add a splash of water if necessary, to prevent from sticking to the pan. Remove the vegetable mixture from the soup pot and set aside.

Tip: Keep a glass of water handy when sautéing, add a little at a time, to prevent from sticking and to prevent from adding additional oil, but only if you are into that kind of thing.

In the same soup pot used to sauté the vegetables, add 1 tablespoon oil and crumbled tempeh. Sauté for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Add a splash of water to prevent from sticking. Once the tempeh has browned, add the vegetable mixture back to the soup pot, mix well. Add freshly ground black pepper, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, salt, liquid smoke, parsley, paprika, cajun seasoning. Mix well and cook for about 3 minutes. Add black-eyed peas, diced tomatoes, vegetable broth, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to simmer and cook for about 1 hour, until the black-eyed peas are fork tender. Stir occasionally. Add the collards, mix and cook for another 15-30 minutes, depending on prefrence. I like my collards well done.

Taste for salt and serve over rice. Add hot sauce when serving depending on preference. This recipe freezes well.

Can't find liquid smoke? No worries. To substitute, add 2 tablespoons smoked paprika. Skip adding regular paprika in this instance.

Lucky Me Stew

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