In the South, there is a long-standing tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. It’s said to bring luck and prosperity for the coming year. Since I’m a sucker for luck and I’ve always had Southern belle dreams, years ago we adopted this tradition. Has it worked? Well, my drawl is coming along nicely and the most important factor around here; it’s a delicious start to the New Year.
My usual version has a Santa Barbara spin with pancetta and jalapenos. Served up at halftime during the Rose Bowl with a corn bread chaser, it does a good job of soaking up the previous nights festivities.
Our recent trip to Italy resulted in this new rendition that is outstanding. I had the good fortune (thank you, Lady Luck) to take a cooking class at Four Seasons Milan. Out of the ten dishes on the agenda this black-eyed pea soup with squid was the dish assigned to me.
The dish was fantastic — interesting, tasty and elegant. The crostini with calamari upped the taste and texture in incredible ways. As much as I enjoy my original down home version, I’m going to chic it up a bit and go with this one. Regardless, we will all still be eating this in our pajamas. There is also the added protein bonus with the squid that will win points with my husband — why do they always need meat to make it a meal?
One interesting note is when we made the beans in Italy we cooked them in a soapstone pot. I’m now obsessed with soapstone pots because it allows you to cook slow and low without losing moisture from the pot — the water doesn’t evaporate. Brilliant for beans! It also felt like a small victory and challenge to discover a piece of kitchen equipment I do not already own.
Black- Eyed Pea Soup with Calamari Crostini
Note: Most likely you will only be able to find frozen squid. Defrost the squid before marinating. If you’re lucky enough to find fresh squid that’s awesome! In Italy, we used fresh baby squid that was so beautiful people were eating it raw out of the marinade. But for most of us in reality it’s frozen.
8 ounces dried black-eyed peas
4 shallots, divided
3 cloves garlic, divided
1 bay leaf
2 large celery ribs, diced
2 large carrots, diced
5 dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon fresh marjoram
1/3 cup white wine
1 cup stock or more
8 ounces squid
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 shallot, diced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
1/2″ pieces of sliced baguette
Make the beans:
Soak the beans on your counter until they double in size. I like changing the water half way through this process. It should take a few hours. Drain the beans and add them to a pot with garlic, one shallot (whole) and bay leaf; cover with cold water and bring to boil, season with salt and pepper and reduce and simmer for 1 hour. Make sure they are always covered with water.
Marinate the calamari in two tablespoons of oil, shallots, paprika, thyme, chile flakes and salt and pepper. Reserve
Dice the remaining 3 shallots and add with the carrots, celery, chopped herbs and dried tomatoes (whole — your going to fish them out later) to a new pot with 2 tablespoons of oil and salt and pepper to taste. Cook 10-12 minutes. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Remove the tomatoes and dice them (almost a mince) — this sounds crazy but just do it – they’re easier to cut when they have been cooked a bit.
Discard the shallot and bay leaf from the beans. Add the beans with their cooking liquid to the veggies. Add the diced dried tomato, stir in stock or water to your desired consistency. Bring to boil and taste for seasoning.
Heat the oven to 375.
Splay out the sliced bread on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil.
Toast in the oven for 10 -12 minutes. They should be golden brown and crispy.
When I got my squid from Kanaloa I defrosted and sliced the rings in 1/2″ pieces so they were thinner, then I cut the beaks off and sliced the tentacles in half. Place a large skillet on high heat and make sure it’s sizzling. Add calamari and sauté until cooked completely. They are cut up pretty small so this only takes a few minutes.
Place one crostini in each bowl. Top with cooked calamari and ladle soup around the crostini. Garnish with fresh parsley and good olive oil.
Happy New Year!!