My new passion for Afro-Southern has led me to local author Bryant Terry and his book, Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed. There are lots of clever ideas and it’s nice to see a new twist on vegan food.
- 2 whole sun-dried tomatoes, or scant ¼ cup diced sun-dried tomatoes
- 2/3 cup dried black eyed peas, sorted and soaked in water overnight **
- 1¾ teaspoons coarse sea salt
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 16 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1½ cups diced seeded heirloom tomatoes, in ¼-inch pieces
- 1 cup diced green bell pepper, in ¼-inch pieces
- ½ cup diced yellow bell pepper, in ¼-inch pieces
- ¼ cup diced red onion, in ¼-inch pieces
- 2 jalapeno chiles, seeded and diced into ¼-inch pieces
- ½ cup packed minced cilantro
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large loaf rustic bread, cut into about twelve ½- to ¾-inch-thick slices
How to make it
- Put the sun-dried tomatoes in a small heatproof bowl and add boiling water to cover. Cover and let soak for 5 minutes.
- Drain the black-eyed peas and rinse them well. Transfer to a medium saucepan and add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium, skim off any foam, and partially cover. Cook until the beans are softening but still firm, 40 to 50 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon of the salt and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain in a colander, rinse under cold water for 1 minute, and let cool.
- Meanwhile, warm the oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy and golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Strain the garlic oil through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and reserve the garlic and the oil separately.
- Drain the sun-dried tomatoes, chop finely, and put in a blender. Add the lemon juice, vinegar, and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and process until smooth. With the blender running, pour in 1/4 cup of the garlic oil in a slow stream and process until creamy.
- Transfer the blended mixture to a large bowl. Add the black-eyed peas, tomatoes, green and yellow bell peppers, onion, jalapeños, and half of the cilantro. Stir gently until well combined, then cover and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Season the black-eyed pea mixture with black pepper and, if desired, more salt.
- Lightly brush each slice of bread with garlic oil, saving any leftover for drizzling. Put the bread on a large baking sheet and bake, without turning, until lightly browned and toasted on top, 6 to 10 minutes. Top each slice with 2 heaping tablespoons of the black-eyed pea mixture. Garnish with a few slices of crispy garlic and a scattering of the remaining cilantro. Drizzle with garlic oil and enjoy.
** If you are looking for a short cut, feel free to use canned black eyed peas. Make sure to rinse them very well!