A few months ago, I wrote about my mother in law's incredible repertoire of legume dishes. Ma certainly prefers to use black eyed peas, lentils, split peas and chickpeas in this stable of recipes to any other kinds of legumes. Common to all of these recipes is the first, traditional step of soaking the legumes for a long time - at least overnight, combined with long, slow cooking process.
Ma recently shared the recipe for black eyed beans (μαυρομάτικα), sometimes known as 'louvi xero', swimming in bowl of flavoursome tomato sauce topped with a very generous drizzle of olive oil (which you can find here).
This recipe is similar - again using tomatoes as a flavoursome base, which is perfect if, like me, you have the last of summer crop of tomatoes on hand. However, this dish is scented with anise from the use of plenty of fennel. It is best served with plenty of feta on the side, or you could even have a little thick Greek yoghurt dolloped alongside - spiked with a little garlic if you prefer.
Black eyed peas with fennel (Μαυρομάτικα με μάραθο)
2 cups dried black eyed peas
250g fennel (leaves and stalks), finely sliced
2/3 cup of extra virgin Greek olive oil
1 onion, grated
4 ripe tomatoes, chopped (peeled and seeded if you prefer)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon of aleppo pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1. Drain off the peas which you have soaked overnight. Put them into a pot, with enough water to cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and dimmer for about 1 hour, or until they begin to soften. Drain well.
2. Blanch the fennel in a pot of boiling water and then drain well.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large pot and add the grated onion. Cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally until soft. Stir in the peas, chopped tomatoes, bay leaf, aleppo pepper and simmer for about 30 minutes.
4. Add the fennel, season to taste and simmer for a further 10 to 15 minutes. By this time, you should have a thick sauce. Keep simmering for a little longer if the sauce appears watery.