Black-Eyed Peas and Rice with Pumpkin

I've had leftover black-eyed peas (of the dried variety) sitting in my pantry since New Year's, and so, I decided to use them for something new.

The something new was black-eyed peas with rice and pumpkin, from next-favorite cookbook, Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. There's nothing about this dish that's bad—you can't go wrong with the ingredients, especially pumpkin (though I used butternut squash)—but it didn't stand out like so many of her other dishes. I'm not sure why that's the case, but if you do decide to make this, I have a few suggestions.

  1. Go easy on the rice: You might want to reduce the amount of rice by half a cup, otherwise, the beans and squash are a little overwhelmed.

  2. Load up on peas and squash: This is the flip-side of the equation. Use more peas (an additional 1/3 cup) and add another two cups of squash. I think these ingredients should be the focus of the dish, and that isn't the case with the original recipe.

With all of that said, this isn't a bad recipe—I enjoyed the meal! But it could be better, and hopefully, those changes will make the difference.

Black-Eyed Peas and Rice with Pumpkin

Serves 6

  • 1 cup dried black-eyed peas, picked over, washed, and drained
  • 1/4 cup peanut or canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 to 2 fresh green or red chiles, chopped (I used 2 large jalapeños)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut in 1/3-inch dice
  • 2 cups long-grain rice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Soak the beans overnight in water to cover by at least 5 inches. Drain.

In a large pot, bring the peas and 4 cups of water to a boil. Cover, turn the heat down to low, and simmer gently for 25 minutes, or until the peas are almost tender. Drain but save the cooking liquid. Set the peas and cooking liquid aside.

Put the oil in a good-sized, heavy pot and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the onion. Stir and fry until the onion pieces begin to turn brown at the edges, 3 to 4 minutes. Now put in the chiles and chopped garlic. Stir and fry for a minute, then put in the pumpkin. Stir and fry for another minute. Put in the rice and stir and sauté it for a minute.

Now add the beans, 3 cups of the bean liquid, and the salt. Stir to mix and bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat down to very low, and cook gently for 25 minutes. Let the pot rest, covered, for another 15 minutes. Stir gently to mix before serving.