Swiss Chard & Black-Eyed Pea Salad

My nephew Wally is mad cute.

Sick Wally

He is also a vector for disease. I have been rocking the same glazed eyes and runny nose for the past week (though I fear they’re not quite as cute on me). By Friday my cough had reached a new level of intensity, rendering sleep a challenge. In the wee hours of Saturday morning, desperate to feel that something other than my cough was “productive,” I set some black-eyed peas to soaking.

I had big plans for Saturday, but a pounding headache and sheer exhaustion compelled me to stick close to home. Luckily, I had those black-eyes peas, a fridge full of vegetables, and friends who were game to scrap our night out in favor of supper on my roof.

I’ve been trying to spend more time on the roof. While the air in my apartment is thick and stagnant in these dog days of summer, it’s always breezy and at least ten degrees cooler up on the roof. A glass of wine and a little al fresco dining as the sun sets will cure just about anything (except maybe this cold). I like to treat my rooftop suppers as picnics, preparing simple, fresh food that’s easily transportable and meant to be eaten at room temperature.

Brookly Roof

Swiss Chard & Black-Eyed Pea Salad

  • 3/4 pound (1.5 cups) dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and drained
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme (or a few sprigs if you’ve got fresh)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon smoked salt
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, divided
  • 3 bunches swiss chard, turnip greens and/or other leafy greens, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced fresh dill
  • salt and pepper
  1. Add beans, onion, bay leaf, red pepper, thyme and olive oil to a large pot. Cover with water by one inch, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until just tender, 30-45 minutes, adding water if needed.
  2. Remove onion and bay leaf. Stir in smoked salt, half of the vinegar and a healthy dose of black pepper. Add the greens in batches, starting with the stems, which will take a little longer to cook. Let simmer until greens are tender but still toothsome, 15-20 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the rest of the vinegar, dill and salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for at least 30 minutes. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Swiss Chard and Black-Eyed Pea Salad

I served this salad alongside whole wheat sourdough toasted in coconut oil and a variation on last summer’s Garden Pea and Spring Onion Puree. A couple bottles of rose rounded out the meal.

Supper on the Roof

Neighbors trickled up to the roof as the sun set. Dishes were carried downstairs and replaced with chocolate and more wine. Just after dark, the supermoon rose above the chimney of an adjacent building.

Sardines and Greens

Kindly neighbors collected my CSA share on Tuesday. A bag full of fresh produce on your doorstep is a welcome sight after a 13-hour workday, but it was all I could do to shove the vegetables into the refrigerator alongside the remnants of last week’s haul. Tonight’s meeting was canceled, leaving me with a single, glorious unscheduled evening. I got home from class around 8:00, eager for some home cooking. The broccoli rabe and kale from last week were looking a little worse for the wear but still edible–as were the greens that topped this week’s turnips. Now for some protein. I unearthed a can of Portuguese sardines in olive oil from the cupboard. I could work with this.

Sardines and Greens

  1. Bring a large cast iron skillet up to medium heat. Open a can of sardines and drain the olive oil into your skillet. It will start to sizzle as the water cooks out of the oil.
  2. Once this has subsided, add a few cloves of thinly sliced garlic and a big pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook until the garlic slices turn a nutty brown. Add the sardines, mashing with a wooden spoon until you have a coarse paste.
  3. Rinse and roughly chop a big pile of dark leafy greens. I used the aforementioned kale, broccoli rabe and turnip greens, but pretty much any hefty greens will do. Add these to the pan, stirring between batches to wilt them and make room for more. (If any of the greens have thick stalks, be sure to add these first so that they have a little more time to cook.) Keep stirring.
  4. When the greens looks ready, add salt, pepper, the zest of half a lemon and some chopped parsley if you have it. Pile the greens in a bowl and squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top. 

I bet this would be tasty as a sauce for whole wheat pasta with toasted breadcrumbs sprinkled on top, but I opted for a scattering of ricotta salata, a Brooklyn Lager and an old Law and Order episode. It’s been a long week.