Some people (and you know who you are) do not share recipes. It's time to give, darlings. Wouldn't you rather be known as a big-hearted person who shares the wealth? And even if you write out your prized recipe in painstaking detail, your friend's version will come out different. Different stove, different cookware, differerent cook. We each make recipes our own.
Yesterday, I made black-eyed peas with fennel and kale, guiltily sure I'd pinched the recipe from the excellent Paula Wolfert. With my fragrant stew simmering, I checked her book The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen and found my version, which I've made dozens of times, has almost nothing in common with hers. I couldn't believe it -- where was the garlic in her recipe? And the jalapeno? And the anisette? I was sure her recipe had tomato paste. Mine sure does.
Suit the recipe to your taste. Make it your own. If you're jalapeno-wary, it'll be fine without it. No anisette?
Use wine. Go with whatever greens you have at hand. I've given my recipe to a friend who's evolved it by adding a pound of sausage. You can, too, but I don't need to know about it.
Lovely for Lent Black-Eyed Peas With Fennel and Kale
1-1/2 cups dried black-eyed peas*
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion
4 gloves garlic
1 fennel bulb, chopped into bite-sized pieces, fronds and stalks saved for another use
10 ounces kale, collards, spinach or the greens of your dreams, rinsed well and patted dry
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup anisette (this may seem like a lot. So?)
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
*The bean bit needs to be started the day before. Soak them overnight in water. Then rinse. Pour beans into a large soup pot, cover with water. I usually add a few bay leaves, pepper cloves, even a star anise, which really brings out the fennel taste in the stew. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low, place lid on pot and let beans cook for an hour or so until tender. Drain and cool. Alternately, if you want to circumvent all this nonsense, you can use frozen beans, that's fine, too. Just don't use canned, they're nasty.
Pour olive oil into the now vacated soup pot. Chop onion, garlic, jalapeno and fennel. Heat oil over medium-high, and add chopped vegetables. Stir to coat and reduce heat to medium. Saute vegetables, stirring occasionally, until soft, golden and fragrant, about 15 minutes.
Slice greens into ribbons and add to soup pot. Stir until wilted, about 5 minutes.
Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato paste and anisette. Cover pot, reduce heat to low, let everything get happy together for about 15 minutes. Add the black-eyed peas and season generously to taste.
It's nice with crusty bread or quinoa.
Serves 6-8, keeps several days in the fridge (it's even freeze-able) and flavor improves over time.