West African Beans and Okra

From Black-Eyed Peas, Please

(Adapted from World Food Cafe: Gobal Vegetarian Cooking, by Chris and Carolyn Caldicott, 1999, Soma Books)

A lively vegetarian stew, spiked with cayenne. We’ve tempered the amount of that pepper from the measurement called for in the original cookbook — cutting it down to 1/4 teaspoon from a full teaspoon. Either the spices the authors were using were not as potent, the seasoning amounts got lost in translation, or the authors have cast-iron palates. All we know if the first time we tried the original recipe, it was too hot to get down, much less enjoy. (One caveat for recipes in this cookbook, in general. Go easy on the hot seasonings. ) A mere quarter of the amount gives a good amount of heat, although more can be added, if desired. The original also calls for cilantro, which is great, but we also suggest parsley. Don’t want to lose the okra haters and the cilantro haters in one fell swoop!)

Serves 4-6

4 tablespoons oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

18 okra pods, quartered

4 tomatoes, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups green beans

Handful of fresh cilantro or parsley leaves, chopped

2 cups cooked black-eyed peas

Salt and pepper , to taste

Water as needed

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and saute the onion until soft. Add the cayenne and thyme and cook briefly. Add the okra, tomatoes, green beans, and cilantro or parsley, and cook over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the black-eyed peas, mashing them slightly with a fork. Season with salt and pepper. Add a little water to loosen the mixture, as needed.

Serve with rice.