When I’m looking for a quick and simple dinner, I like to turn to the Happy Herbivore series for inspiration. With few exceptions, the ingredients in Lindsay’s recipes are already in my kitchen or can easily be obtained on my next shopping trip. Such was the case with Caribbean Peas & Rice, a unique but easy combination of black-eyed peas, rice and kale that caught my eye as I was flipping through Everyday Happy Herbivore.
Like a lot of rice and bean recipes, this one starts with sauteing a few veggies and seasonings, then adding in vegetable broth and rice. The fun thing, though, is that Lindsay has you add ketchup and turmeric to the mix before bringing the whole shebang to a boil. I’ve made several rice and bean dishes that include diced tomatoes, the juice from them or some other kind of seasoned liquid, but never ketchup. It added a very nice flavor that I wasn’t expecting just from reading the ingredients. And of course the turmeric lent a lovely yellow color to everything.
Much as I love jerk seasoning, I didn’t have any on hand and was feeling too lazy to mix some up. Instead I went with some Cajun spices, also a Happy Herbivore concoction, along with part of a fresh jalapeno in lieu of Tabasco sauce. This made for a nicely spicy combination that wasn’t too hot or too mild. My mom and I drizzled a little hot sauce on top and that balanced everything out perfectly.
Since there’s brown rice involved, this takes a bit longer to cook than some of Lindsay’s other recipes. But once you get the rice in, it pretty much cooks itself. All you have to do while it’s simmering is steam the kale a bit and maybe make a salad. I went one step further and made some cornbread as well, using a bag of Pamela’s cornbread mix hanging around. Unfortunately, I was out of almond milk and had to use water instead of the standard vegan “buttermilk” substitute, which affected the richness of the flavor but not the moist texture. The bread was more salty than I was used to, but overall it made a good side to the dish. (There’s also a neat unsweetened cornbread in the Everyday Happy Herbivore book called bayou cornbread that would go well. I’m fond of making that with spicy dishes!)
I’m going to have to try this recipe again when the collards in my dad’s garden are ready. I aboslutely love the combination of collard greens and black-eyed peas! It’s yet another one of those delicious mixtures that I never tried before going vegan. Chard and spinach were pretty much the only leafy greens I remember having around growing up. I still love both of them, but I’m glad I’ve broadened my horizons since then to include things like kale, collards and broccoli rabe. And I’m glad that I’m more willing to try dishes like this one that include them!