Since we landed in Africa on our virtual world food tour, our food appreciation classes have noticed that the recipes we’ve tried so far are all loaded with fresh, healthful ingredients. This traditional salad from Senegal, called salatu niebein in the native language, is a good example. It starts with cooked black-eyed peas, a legume, and incorporates a number of fresh vegetables easily acquired from the local produce section or farmers market.
Black-eyed peas, also called cowpeas, are loaded with good nutrition. They are caloric: a one-half-cup serving of cooked beans contains 286 calories, along with nearly 20 grams of protein, about nine grams of fiber and lots of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. They are easy to grow in a home garden here in the District of Columbia, which may explain why they are such a popular, traditional dish in the South. In some families, ushering in the new year is impossible without a bowl of black-eyed peas.
Black-eyed peas have the added virtue of cooking rather quickly, unlike most beans. Start by soaking 1/2 pound dried black-eyed peas in plenty of water for 1 hour, then cooking the peas in plain water until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Peel a tomato by first blanching it in boiling water for 20 seconds, them moving it to a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. The skin should remove easily. Cut the tomato in half and squeeze out the seeds, then cut the tomato into small dice and place in a mixing bowl.
Peel 1 cucumber, then remove the seeds (or use half of a long seedless cucumber) by cutting it in half lengthwise and scooping out the seeds with a spoon. Cut the cucumber into small dice and add to the tomatoes.
Seed 1 red bell pepper and cut into small dice. Add to the bowl.
Cut 1 bunch scallions (green onions) into small rounds, using some of the green part, and add to the bowl.
Chop a fistful of flat-leaf parsley leaves and add to the bowl.
Using rubber gloves, seed a small habanero pepper (or 1/2 pepper if you want the salad less hot), then chop fine and add to the mix.
Add the juice of 2 limes and stir in extra-virgin olive oil to taste, about 1/3 cup. Season with salt and pepper.
This salad could hardly be easier, but it makes wonderful side dish or even a snack with lots of healthy benefits.
For more great stories about how we are taking back our food system, read Fight Back Friday.