Janus, the Roman god who gave January its name, was two-faced, but not in the saying-mean-things-behind-someone’s back way. No, he had two faces on either side of his handsome head. Thus, he could look forward into the future and backwards into the past. But, in planning a New Year’s Day brunch, we need neither two faces nor the Psychic’s Hotline to make four predictions:
1. Everybody is partied-out and tired of fancy party food, eaten standing up in slinky, glittery, dry-clean-only garments. By New Year’s Day, “simple” is sounding good.
2. A New Year’s Brunch must be easy for the host. Incrementally done-ahead dishes are good. Unfussy, easy-to-serve dishes are good. Dishes that are easy on the post-holiday wallet are good, too.
3. Fancy, no; delicious, yes, of course. Even the most informal drop-in party is still a party. The food should taste good, and the atmosphere should be comfortable.
4. The food and the occasion should look forward, with hope. As at all beginnings, we may pray for wisdom, courage and humility. But it doesn’t hurt to wish for good luck, too.
Black-eyed peas have been considered lucky in the South since the Civil War. Legend has it the two-toned bean saved a starving Mississippi town with its protein-packed staying power. Here we’ve tossed the humble legume with miso and chipotle for a brunch dish that’s easy on the wallet and waistline.
East-West Black-Eyed Peas
Black-eyed peas, a New Year’s Day must, team up with miso, a fermented soybean paste, available at natural foods supermarkets (in the refrigerator case) and Asian groceries.
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
½ dried chipotle pepper, broken in half
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped (optional)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
4 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas
2 heaping tablespoons dark or light miso
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat vegetable oil in a large, heavy skillet. Add onion and chipotle pepper; sauté about 8 minutes. Add carrots, celery, bell pepper and garlic; sauté 5 minutes.
2. Place peas in a large Dutch oven. Add onion mixture to peas. Add miso, sesame oil, salt and pepper. Stir gently. Cook over medium-low heat until thoroughly heated. Serves 8.
Per serving: 290 calories, 8g fat, 0mg chol., 15g prot., 42g carbs., 8g fiber, 410mg sodium.
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Photo credit: Mark Boughton Photography; styling by Teresa Blackburn