December 06 Newsletter » Notes from the Tenzo
Rice, peas, and tomatoes


BILL SEIZAN EWING

Oryoki Menu:

  • 1st bowl:  White Rice
  • 2nd bowl:  Black Eyed Peas
  • 3rd bowl:  Stewed Tomatoes with Spinach
  • Condiments: Gomasio and Plain Soy Yogurt

Notes:
I personally like this menu because it reminds me of home and a common easy way of cooking.

The first bowl should be prepared using the usual cooking directions for white rice.

For the second bowl I use dried black eyed peas, so they should be soaked in the pot you will cook them in overnight in cold water.  Make sure you cover them with several inches of water.  When you are ready to begin cooking them add more water if necessary to keep them covered. Add some salt, bring them to a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and cover them to cook for 1 to 1½ hours.  While the peas are beginning to cook sauté some chopped onion, celery, and bell pepper in some olive oil.  Season the sauté mix with ground or  crushed Rosemary, Thyme, and Sage.  I also like to add a little smoked sweet Paprika, for the smoky flavor, but just a little.  When the sauté mix has softened stir it into the peas to cook for the remaining time.  Continue to simmer cook the peas, stirring every twenty minutes or so, adding water when necessary.  When the peas are tender through, they are done, turn off the heat and cool.  Season with course salt and pepper.  This bowl can be prepared in advance, and reheated before serving.

For the third bowl, if you're using fresh tomatoes they will need to be pealed.  The best way to do this is to blanch them.  This works best if you use tomatoes which are fairly ripe.  You simply put them in boiling water for just a minute or so, then stop the cooking by putting them immediately in cold water to cool them down.  The skins will peel off very easily then.  Core the tomatoes to take out the hard center stem part.  Cut them into quarters and cut the quarters in half.  Put them in a pot and heat them just to bubbling.  Clean the spinach and remove the stems, then chop it so that there are no large leaves left.  As you put the tomatoes into the serving bowl add the spinach a little at a time.  The heat of the tomatoes will quickly cook the spinach.  Season with course salt and pepper.  I like to dress this bowl with a splash or two of sweet balsamic vinegar.

When I have this meal I like to mix the black eyed peas with the rice, and sometimes even the stewed tomatoes.  This is just the beginning of a gumbo.  An excellent condiment for this meal is a soy yogurt or sour cream because it will complement the spice of the peas and the sharpness of the tomatoes.  If you use yogurt make sure it is a plain yogurt with no flavoring, vanilla or sugar.

Till our next meal together, eat well, practice good and accomplish our Buddha way.

        Seizan

 

PHOTO:  JONATHAN POZNIAK

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