This is a fun recipe based on one in Crescent Dragonwagon’s Passionate Vegetarian. She lives in the South, and calls her spread “Hillbilly Hummus,” since it contains black-eyed peas and peanut butter. I just love the combination of the slightly sweet black-eyes with the peanut butter. (Isn’t that clever—using peanut butter instead of tahini?) It’s quicker than regular hummus, because the black-eyes only take 30 or 40 minutes to cook. I make a really big batch when I do this, because it freezes so well. Just pack the hummus in small containers, label them and pull them out whenever you need a quick appetizer or snack. If you’re making this in mid-winter in Alaska, you can just put them out on your back deck to freeze. Who needs a chest freezer, anyway?
2 cups dried black-eyed peas, soaked for 4 hours or overnight
2 bay leaves
8 cloves garlic (4 for cooking the beans, 4 for the hummus)
¼ cup natural peanut butter, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme)
2 tablespoons cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon of cayenne, or to taste
2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt, plus more to taste
1. Drain and rinse the soaked peas. Cover the black-eyed peas with 2 inches of water in a large pot. Mince or press 4 of the whole garlic cloves and add them and the bay leaves to the pot, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and let simmer until the beans are completely tender (you can squish them between your tongue and roof of your mouth). This will probably take about 30 or 40 minutes, but keep testing. Let them cool a bit in their liquid. Don’t drain the beans yet—you’ll need some of the liquid to make the hummus.
2. This is probably the most important step of the whole recipe: REMOVE THE BAY LEAVES from the peas. (It’s very important to find the bay leaves and get rid of them at this stage. Bay leaves do not puree well—they just turn into hundreds of tiny sharp shards.)
3. In a food processor, mince the remaining 4 cloves of garlic. Add the peanut butter, thyme, vinegar, cayenne and salt, and puree it until well-mixed. If your lemon juice or vinegar is cold, it’ll congeal the peanut butter into little curds—that’s totally fine. Scooping the peas out of the pot with a strainer or slotted spoon, add some of the beans to the food processor. (You might have to do this in batches, depending on the size if your food processor.) If you need to add bean-cooking liquid to make a smooth puree, do so.
4. Taste the puree and add more salt, more peanut butter, more cayenne, vinegar or lemon juice… whatever you think best! Scoop it up with celery sticks, carrots, or spread on crackers or toast! It tastes even better the next day.