*** A quick aside before I delve into today’s post. Because life is a delicate balancing act, I’m moving towards posting three quality blog posts per week. Ideally I will post on Tuesdays, Thursday, and Sundays going forward. When I first started writing this blog, I had grandiose visions of posting daily and for awhile I was able to deliver. The quality of writing is very important to me and so sometimes creating a post truly evolves into a labor of love. To stay true to my writing and true to myself, three days a week of blog posts seems like the most ideal way to share my stories and also balance all of the other complex tasks of keeping things in my life in order.
And on that note, let’s move on to standout side dishes that truly could stand alone on your table and have everyone reaching for the serving spoon for seconds.
As long back as I can remember, cabbage and black eyed peas were a central theme of all New Year’s meals my mother prepared for us growing up. Indulging in black eyed peas guaranteed good luck in the new year, and chowing down on cabbage ensured wealth. Traditionally preparation methods usually include boiling the cabbage and seasoning with salt and pepper. Black eyed peas follow a similar method or might be thrown into a ham soup for good measure. Truth be told, both dishes have rarely wowed me until this year, but I always made sure to put a few of each on my plate for good measure.
I adapted the recipes below from several different websites and added my own flair to create two side dishes that stole the show at our New Year’s Eve dinner. We also enjoyed a low key, kid centered New Year’s Eve that included fireworks, noise makers, and bunuelos. An easy dessert made with flour tortillas, butter, and a blend of cinnamon and sugar. Enjoying bunuelos is another traditional New Year’s food I’ve enjoyed since childhood. It is also eaten to ensure good luck in the new year. Between the bunuelos and black eyed peas, I’d say we’re set for a year of absolute good fortune!
SOUTHERN FRIED CABBAGE
- 1 head of cabbage, thinly cut in narrow slices
- 6 slices of thick cut bacon, roughly chopped
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced
- salt & pepper, to taste
This dish highlights southern cooking and comfort with the savory flavor of bacon. As an aside, I used a soup pot for this dish because of the volume of cabbage. Sauté the bacon on medium heat until browned. Remove the bacon pieces and set aside. Add the diced onion and sauté in the bacon grease. Then add half of the cabbage and continue sautéing. When the cabbage starts to cook down, add the remaining cabbage and the cooked bacon. Stir frequently to evenly distribute the heat. Cook until the cabbage is softened. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm!
Recipe reference: http://www.4theloveoffoodblog.com
BLACK EYED PEA & SWEET POTATO HASH
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 sweet potato, peeled & grated
- 1 fire roasted red pepper (jarred), diced
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp harissa spice blend (see recipe below)
- 1 to 2 cups black eyed peas, cooked
- 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, stems removed & roughly chopped
This vegetarian dish is ready to enjoy in just a few simple steps. In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium heat. Then add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent. Add the grated sweet potato and cook until softened. Then add the red bell pepper and spice blend and stir until the mixture is evenly coated. Finally add the black eyed peas and cilantro and cook until the peas are warmed through. And viola, enjoy!
This dish would be exceptional served atop Naan or with a side of scrambled eggs. Consider substituting the black eyed peas with black beans and stuff in flour or corn tortillas for delectable tacos.
Recipe reference: http://www.veganricha.com
HARISSA SPICE BLEND
After a little online research compliments of Google, I discovered that harissa is is a Maghrebi hot chili pepper paste or rub derived from a variety of peppers. Because I didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand when I happened upon this recipe, I adapted the recipe and created my own version below. I stored the remaining spice blend in an air tight container and will consider integrating it into some new recipes soon. I’ll be sure to share my results in a future post.
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, dry roasted on medium heat briefly until browned
- 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
- 1/4 cup of ground chili powder
- 2 tablespoons of paprika
- 2 teaspoons of garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt
- 1 teaspoon of ground black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
Mix all spices in a small container and blend evenly.
Recipe reference: thereapeuticcuisine.tv