Vegetable Dinner with Peas and Cornbread
This meal was inspired by a lovely plate I had at Rolf and Daughters recently. I have changed it a bit and added the cornbread. Personally, I think cornbread adds a bit of magic to any meal. You can vary it as well. Fred thinks it’s one of the best meals I’ve ever cooked. In fact, he was thrilled when I cooked it two nights in a row because I didn’t get a good photo the first time.
Cook a pot of peas. You want to have left-overs, so cook plenty. Fred found some fresh ones at the market, but you can use frozen ones in a pinch. Crowder peas, Lady Peas, Black-eyed peas; any of these would work. Start by sautéing one large sweet yellow onion in 3 T olive oil. When the onions have cooked for about 5 minutes add 4 cloves of chopped garlic and continue to cook in the oil over medium heat. Then put in the peas and add enough vegetable broth to cover about 2 inches above the peas. Cook over low heat for about 1 1/2 hours. You want the peas to be tender and the liquid to have thickened, or as us Southern cooks say, “cooked down.”
Next come the roasted vegetables. The trick is to keep a close eye on them. They can over cook pretty fast.
Roast at 450 degrees, 5 large plum tomatoes that you have cut in half and brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt, until they are starting to brown a bit. This will take about 20 minutes. In a sauce pan take 1 cup of liquid from the peas and thicken with 3 T tomato paste. Coarsely chop the roasted tomatoes and add.
On a cooking sheet put about 28 pods of okra, which you have washed (and dried with paper towels) and cut just the hard tops off of. Split the pods longways and shake in a bowl with olive oil. I count on about 7 pods per person. Roast about 15 minutes. They will get a bit brown, and that’s not a problem.
On another cooking sheet put 6 (1 1/2 eggplant per person) of those long skinny (sometimes called Japanese) eggplants, which you have cut longways in half, brushed with oil and salted. These will need to roast for about 20 minutes. You could also use regular eggplants here, cut into thick slices. These need to roast about 20 minutes. You want them done.
I use two separate cooking sheets because the eggplants need to roast a bit longer than the okra. They both fit into my oven, which is handy.
Remember that pancake recipe I posted last week? You are using those for the cornbread. You can warm up leftover pancakes, or start from scratch.
To assemble the plates, start with the pancake, add some of the tomatoes, then the peas, the roasted eggplant and okra, and top with a bit of the tomatoes.