It’s time we talk about recipes and food here at Gather & Build. I’m interested in the whole home—the kitchen is the heart of a home and the food that’s created therein is an important part of what makes a home cozy. I’ve long loved dinner parties and entertaining; I’m hoping to bring a bit of those experiences to this space.
A week or so ago, Joel and I had dinner at City House, home of James Beard Award winning chef, Tandy Wilson. We popped in on a Sunday evening and luckily snatched two seats at the pizza bar which afforded us the opportunity to watch the chef and his team work their magic. We ordered a field pea and okra dish that consisted of simple and fresh-from-the-farmer’s-market ingredients. Perched on my seat, I watched okra dance around in the hottest of pans and had the okra epiphany of my life: I suppose you don’t have to batter and fry okra after all; you don’t have to bread it at all. I took note of the foundational ingredients and determined to create a version of this for myself.
Last night I had dinner with friends and served this as a side. It was a huge hit. Let me tell you about it!
Ingredients I Used:
- 16 ounces of cherry tomatoes
- olive oil
- 1 lb. fresh field, crowder, or black-eyed peas
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1 French baguette
- 1 tbsp. cooking oil (I used peanut)
- 1 lb. fresh okra
- parmesan cheese
This is where I warn you that this recipe is written from “experientially” and not technically. Most of the time, I don’t measure anything. Like ever. So, if you need your recipes to be really tidy… Let’s get on with the process.
Gather up one pound of fresh peas. I found these beauties, already shelled, at the Nashville Farmer’s Market.
Boil one pound of fresh peas for 20 minutes, or until just tender.
Some things to note:
- This recipe will work with black-eyed peas, purple hull peas, crowder peas, or field peas—all are peas, each have different qualities but if you have a favorite, go for it.
- Do not overcook the peas; nobody likes mushy peas.
- Frozen or canned peas would work as well. If frozen, cook until tender. If canned, simply warm the peas and then drain.
Remove the peas from boiling water and rinse with a cold bath to stop all the cooking and set aside. You’re looking at one pound of freshly boiled white crowder peas, folks.
Now let’s roast some tomatoes. I used Trader Joe’s mini heirloom tomatoes.
Cut the tomatoes in half, drizzle with olive oil and finish with a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Place in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, there are croutons to be made.
Slice a french baguette to create two pieces. From there, tear or cut the bread into cubes or small pieces.
Melt two tablespoons of your very favorite butter in a pan and add the bread.
Can we stop here to talk about butter for one moment? Everybody go get some of this butter. And if you’re in Nashville, go to the store now. I popped in Kroger yesterday to grab the baguette and saw that my beloved European Style butter was on closeout sale. Naturally, I panicked and bought two boxes. Why, Kroger? Why?
Turn the bread to coat as evenly as possible and brown. Once browned remove the croutons and set aside.
Your tomatoes should be nice and roast-y by now.
Once they’re all done, scrape them up and add them to a food processor. Puree them to a wonderful pulp and set aside.
Note: You should come out with, at it’s thickest, a tomato paste. If it’s not quite so thick, that is a-okay. As I said to my friend, Tyler, we want this to somehow be around the peas but not stuck to the peas, does this make sense? Clearly, what you’re seeing here is thick. So I added a bit of water to thin this out. By a bit, I mean 3-4 tablespoons.
Now is a great time to prep the okra.
Chop okra into one-inch pieces. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
Add a tablespoon or so of peanut oil (or any oil that can handle high heat) into a seriously hot pan. We are going for a sear, people.
Turn okra frequently, allowing for the slightest char. Overall, you’ll cook the okra for three or four minutes. I mean honestely, I did not time this. I bounced back and forth from the sizzling okra to the pea mixture. I’m thinking three to four minutes went by.
Now’s the time to get multi-tasky.
In a large bowl combine peas, roasted tomatoes, and croutons. Use your hands to toss the ingredients together. You want the croutons to get some of the tomato juices, trust me.
Transfer the mixture to a serving platter and top with hot okra, straight from the skillet.
Garnish with fresh grated parmesan cheese. Be generous about it, okay?
Over all, we loved it. We ate almost every bite. I’d say this is not the sort of thing that “saves well” so eat it all up.
This dish served six people and we were not shy about giving ourselves second helpings.
The only spices I used were salt and pepper, to taste. Next time I think I’ll add red pepper flakes to the okra before flash-frying—I like a little heat. Next time I will likely leave the tomatoes whole (so they lose less juice) or cut back on the roasting time.
I hope you’ll make this dish before summer slips away from us.
And I hope you’ll let me know what you think of it!