Eating Jewish: Black-eyed Pea Stew (Lubiya)
As I may have previously mentioned, baking is one of my favorite things to do. When I first entered the kitchen, baking is what I began with. It came easy to me and I knew that if followed the instructions and measurements outlined in a recipe, the results would, more likely than not, turn out to be delicious. I have always felt more confident when it comes to baking and because of this it has become an activity that I try to do as often as possible. I think that it is for these reasons that when trying to decide what to make and write about on Eating Jewish for Rosh Hashanah, I gravitated towards the baked goods in the cookbooks that I looked through. There was an abundance of Rosh Hashanah desserts to choose from, and I wish I could have made them all. Unfortunately meals can’t simply be made up of desserts (although sometimes I wish they could!), and I realized that I was missing savory dishes that could be prepared for the New Year.
Gilda Angel’s cookbook entitled Sephardic Holiday Cooking had a number of tempting savory recipes, including things such as pumpkin bread, leek croquettes and beet salad. However, the recipe that caught my eye was for a black-eyed pea stew. Back-eyed peas were an ingredient that I associated with the cuisine of the Southern United States and I had never previously cooked with them. Yet after looking through cookbooks for Rosh Hashanah recipes I came to realize that these were a traditional ingredient for the New Year among many Sephardic communities as well. Claudia Roden described how a dish of black-eyed peas was served during Rosh Hashanah among her family when she was growing up in Egypt, while Gilda Angel’s cookbook included recipes for black-eyed peas in both the sections for Turkish and Syrian Rosh Hashanah recipes. Black-eyed peas are symbols of abundance, wealth and fertility and are included on the Rosh Hashanah table in the hope that they will help to fill the upcoming year with these qualities.
The recipe below is an adaptation of the two recipes that were included in Gilda Angel’s cookbook. The first recipe was a simple dish that consisted of black-eyed peas, onions, salt, tomato sauce and broth. The second recipe was more of a stew and along with the black-eyed peas, included garlic, veal, salt, allspice, cinnamon, oregano and paprika. I decided to combine elements of these two recipes because the ingredients of the first recipe created a perfect base to which I could add some more flavor with the spices that were included in the second recipe. This combination created a stew in which the sweetness of the tomato sauce and the warmth of the spices complemented the earthiness of the beans. Although I chose not to add veal to the stew, about 1 ½ to 2 pounds of boneless shoulder veal can be added after the onions and garlic have been sautéed. This could be served as a side dish or as a main course over some rice.
If you haven’t served black-eyed peas at your Rosh Hashanah meals, I think that this dish would be a great way to introduce this food into your New Year’s celebration. Just as black-eyed peas symbolize wealth and abundance, I hope that this dish will help to fill your New Year with both of these things.
Black-eyed Peas Stew (Lubiya)
Adapted from Gilda Angel’s Sephardic Holiday Cooking
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
2 small onions
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 can (15 ounces) black-eyed peas
4 tablespoons tomato sauce
A few tablespoons tomato paste if you feel the stew needs thickening
2 cups vegetable broth or water
Sauté onion and garlic in oil. Add salt, paprika, oregano, cinnamon to the onions and garlic. Add peas, tomato sauce and broth or water.
Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.