Vegetable Plate with Peas and Cornbread

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Vegetable Dinner with Peas and Cornbread
Serves 4

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.

Chow down!

Stewed Tomatoes

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Stewed Tomatoes

I really couldn’t figure out what to call this. It was a favorite dish of mine as a child. But, since I grew up in the Deep South, it was a Paula Deen-type concoction with loads of butter, lots of white sugar, and tons of white loaf bread. And a few tomatoes. In Nashville it was standard fare at the Elliston Place Soda Shop and Sylvan Park Cafe. It was usually called “stewed tomatoes.” Fred and I started reminiscing about this tomatoey, bready, buttery, actually puddiny, concoction this morning and I felt called to come up with a vegan, wheat-free version. So tonight I did just that and it was absolutely divine. I decided to make it into a main dish, mainly because I was too lazy to cook more than one thing. So, I would say, add the soysage if you want a main dish, leave it out if you are going for a side dish. This recipe should feed four, but Fred went back for seconds, so you might want to double it, cook it in a bigger skillet, and plan on leftovers. I just kept life simple and served it with a green salad, and a Petit Chablis. This recipe will provide a total pig-out feast for two. We did have left-overs as I am a model of restraint.
(True Confession: Right after I wrote this I, too, went down to the kitchen for a second helping.) This dish is dangerously delicious. We may have the two remaining small portions for breakfast. While I served this for a simple dinner, it would be great for brunch, served with eggs. You could definitely prepare this one a bit ahead of time,

Preheat oven to 450 degrees on bake, or convection bake if you have it.
The Tomatoes
In a skillet that can go from stove-top to oven, brown in 2 T olive oil
4 slices of your favorite soysage. (Whole hog soysage–the hog stays whole). Drain on paper towel and set aside.
In same skillet add 1 more T olive oil and
1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped. When this has cooked for about 5 minutes over medium heat add
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped. ( You may have noticed that almost everything I cook starts with olive oil, onion, and garlic.)
Cook together until onion starts to brown and caramelize. Then add
4 very ripe, chopped, large, tomatoes. There should be lots of juice. Add
1/4 tea salt and a little black pepper to taste.
1T turbinado sugar ( light brown sugar) While I try to seriously limit my consumption of sugar, I sometimes use a small amount of it as a seasoning. One tablespoon is all you need.
Let this cook together while you make the biscuits.
Stir in the cooked soysage, crumbled up, at the end, right before you put the biscuits on top and pop it in the oven.

The Biscuit Topping
Position rack in center of oven.
Whisk together in large bowl:
1/2 cup gluten-free flour. I like King Arthur all purpose. It comes n a blue and white box.
1/2 cup Masa. If you want regular biscuits, use all flour. We love the texture of Masa.
1 1/4 tea baking powder
1/4 tea salt
Add
4 T Earth Balance, cut into pieces. Because I am a Southern girl I musch it in with my finger. Mix it around until the mixture is like coarse breadcrumbs. Earth Balance needs to be cold when you start.
Add
1/3 cup soy milk
Mix this around until the dough is all stuck together.
Make the dough into a ball and knead about 10 times in the bowl.
Put the dough on a board lightly dusted with flour or Masa. Roll or pat out the dough until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into rounds. This should make about 8 biscuits.
Before putting the biscuits on top of the tomatoes, brush them with melts Earth Balance on the tops and bottoms.
Cook in oven until biscuits are golden brown on top. About 12 to 15 minutes.