Mavromatika (Black-eyed Beans)
For me this is soul food, a recipe that I learnt watching my father, Andreas.
An easy recipe, this Cypriot dish can be the main meal or used as an accompaniment.
Also known as black-eyed peas, these beans are nutritious (protein rich and high in zinc, iron and potassium) and should definitely be part of a healthy vegetarian diet.
(for 4 people)
200g dried black-eyed beans
2 or 3 carrots
Good quality olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
sea salt to flavour
Soak the beans for about two hours. Drain the water and simmer in fresh water over a medium heat. Because the difference in time from being cooked ‘just right’ to becoming soft and mushy is quite small, I do not use a pressure cooker.
Skim any scum off the surface of the water. Carry on cooking until all the scum has been removed, then drain and wash the beans. Place back on a high heat in fresh water, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Continue cooking until the beans have softened but still retain their shape and a little firmness. At this point add salt, remove from the heat and leave for about ten minutes. Drain and allow to cool.
In a large saucepan, cook the sliced onions in olive oil over a low heat until soft and translucent. Add the carrot and celery, stir well and continue cooking over a low heat for another five minutes. Cover with water and bring to a rapid boil, lower the heat to a simmer. Add the beans, add more water to cover, mix well and place the lid on the saucepan. Simmer for a further 15 -20 minutes. Taste and add salt as appropriate.
Ten minutes before the end add the courgettes and the lemon juice. When you turn the heat off, you can add the chopped stalks from the herbs and stir in gently. Leave to stand for ten minutes and then serve.
I love these beans with heaps of whatever fresh herbs are around, such as fresh coriander, flat-leaf parsley and fennel leaves. Add more great olive oil and lemon if required.
They can also be eaten cold with cherry tomatoes added as a salad.
Good as an accompaniment are pickled vegetables, marinated salty anchovies, smoked mackerel and of course great bread.