Black-eyed peas or black-eyed beans (in Greek “fasolia mauromatika”) are really tasty legumes with great health benefits. They are consumed mainly in summer time in Crete and other southern Greek islands. The cooked in a single way and they can be eaten either warm or cold. Cretans prepare black-eyed peas as a vegan stew that is a good example of the Cretan vegan diet. Unlike most Cretan dishes that are based on tomato juice, adding a sweetness to their taste, Cretan black-eyed peas are based on lemon juice, giving some acidity which brings out the great starchy taste of the peas. Black-eyed beans is a very versatile dish that can be eaten as starter, main or salad. It also greatly matches tomatoes, onions, capers and parsley. It evokes memories of relaxing Cretan tavernas or meze restaurants, where it plays the role of the simplest gourmet dish of the table! Read below about the health benefits of black-eyed peas and the details of executing this great recipe, as well as serving advice.
It is widely known that legumes have plentiful health benefits. They are rich in dietary fiber and low in calories and therefore qualify as diet friendly food and also good for the digestive system (assisting bowel function). The high fiber content results is lowering cholesterol levels. More specifically, black-eyed peas are great sources of plant-based protein and folate. The latter has been shown to act against neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s . They are also good sources of thiamin which assists memory and brain function. Black-eyed beans, as most legumes, have a low glycemic index which is good for controlling blood sugar level, i.e., protecting against diabetes. Furthermore, they are also good sources of B family vitamins, potassium as well as iron and copper which protect against anemia. Their sodium content is low, which combined with their high potassium content, results in lowering blood pressure . Cretan black-eyed peas is a delicious detox starchy dish, served either as main or as salad, deserving a healthiness score of 3 out of 3 (🥑🥑🥑) as it is fully beneficial.
The recipe below feeds approximately 6 people as a main dish. Cooking time is around 30-40 mins depending on the particular chickpeas we use as some chickpeas cook faster than others. Consequently the time score is 2 out of 3 (⌛⌛). We find the dish really tasty, comforting and healthy and give it an overall score of 2 out of 3 (😋😋).
Typical Cretan black-eyed peas
In our recipe we make use of dried black-eyed peas which are widely sold in Mediterranean countries. In other countries, this type of beans may be trickier to find, although they can be always found in Greek and Mediterranean grocery stores. Therefore the ingredients score is 2 out of 3 (🔎🔎). The ingredients are as follows:
- 500 gr dried black-eyed peas
- 1 big onion finely chopped
- Half a teacup of squeezed lemon juice
- (Optional) 1 teaspoon of patent flour, in case you prefer a thicker sauce
- 1 tea cup of extra virgin olive oil (should be always added at the end)
- salt (always to be added at the end to avoid hardening our beans)
- 1 liter of water (approximately) to start with. More water to be added gradually if necessary during boiling.
In terms of preparation score, it receives 1 out of 3 (🍳) as it is one of the easiest legumes and its preparation is not time consuming. Beware though that the timing of actions is very important when you cook legumes! Follow the steps below:
- Place the black-eyed peas in a pan with water just covering them and bring them boil.
- (Optional) In 10 mins remove the water, which has a lot of foam, and replace it with new boiling water. This makes our beans easier to digest.
- Add the chopped onion.
- Let the mixture simmer until the beans soften well (you need to try them to find out). This takes between 20 and 30 mins from the beginning of boiling.
- In the meantime, make sure you keep adding water just to cover the mixture.
- Add the lemon juice.
- (Optional) In case you prefer a thicker sauce, dissolve the flour in a bit of water to produce some gruel. Add it to the mixture while stirring thoroughly and bring the broth to boil until it thickens.
- Add the salt and the extra virgin olive oil and stir.
- Our Cretan black-eyed beans are ready to be served.
It is important that olive oil is added the end of the cooking for two reasons: (1) it retains its full taste and (2) it retains all its nutritional value, some of which is destroyed with cooking.
Cretan black-eyed peas served as main topped with chopped onion and parsley
Cretan black-eyed peas served cold as salad combined with tomatoes, onions, capers and parsley
Serving and accompaniments
Cretan black-eyed peas can be served as a warm main dish or as a salad. In the former case the dish can be topped with parsley and finely chopped fresh onion. For the black-eyed peas salad, mix the peas with chopped tomatoes and onions, capers and top it with parsley. The salad is really delicious!
Black-eyed peas in any form can be accompanied by any type of salted and/or smoked fish, such as sardines (“sardeles”), anchovies (“antsougies”), herring (“renga”) or mackerel (“skoumpri”). The acute saltiness of such fish greatly balances out the starchiness of the peas.
Cretans also accompany their black-eyed peas with some mildly salty and spicy Cretan cheese such as “Graviera”, “Touloumotiri” or “Feta”.
Last but not least, black-eyed peas require some bread to go with, preferably a healthy Cretan wholemeal bread. Cretan Healthy Life proposes a recipe for delicious Cretan wholemeal bread using a breadmaker or a more traditional Cretan hand made bread.
Recipe last edited: 19/04/2019
© Recipe and photos by Agisilaos Papadogiannis