The Localist: Morrison Organic Peas and Texas Caviar

It was in Oregon where I fell madly in love with vegetables, farmers markets, and seasonal eating. After moving to Dallas, I’ve been diving in head-first to find the pulse of the products that make Texans tick. This column is meant to promote our nearby farmers, Texas-made products, and provide some info behind the person who makes it. I believe that supporting the local food scene is a collaborative effort, and I’m always interested in hearing any and all recommendations from you, the loyal SideDish audience.

Black-eyed peas are a humble yet well-loved legume famous for dotting New Years celebration tables. Known primarily for the good luck and fortune they bring to those who consume them, a satisfying bowl is all some can think about during the winter season. Their presence doesn’t stop there; I see them continually popping up as a hearty salad option and favorite dip on party tables throughout the year.

Also known as a cowpea, black-eyed peas are an African relative of the mung bean that have been cultivated in the Southern part of the United States for over three centuries. While shopping last weekend, I discovered a small bag of dried, organically grown black-eyed peas at Urban Acres’ Urban Farmstead. Grown at Morrison Organic Farm in Comanche, husband-and-wife team Jacky and Cindy Morrison grow many warm weather crops, including okra, summer squash, and blackberries. During the peak season, you can find black-eyed peas at their best, fresh and unshelled. I’m already looking forward to summer just thinking about it.

Whether dried or fresh, they are relatively easy to prepare and have a very pronounced sprout-like flavor. In my home, they found their way into one of my favorite preparations, Texas Caviar. The combination of creamy beans, crunchy vegetables, and a bright and punchy Italian vinaigrette makes for a refreshing, make-ahead preparation ideal for sweltering days when I abstain from cooking indoors.

With about as many variations as there are people, there is no end to the number of combinations when making your own caviar rendition. Whatever path you decide to take, my favorite pairing can be found alongside a platter of Texas barbeque, where the acidity in the vinaigrette cuts through the richness of a smoked plate of hearty ribs or fatty brisket. It’s also well matched with a bowl of tortilla chips.

Morrison Organic Farm’s crops can be purchased at Urban Acres’ Urban Farmstead.

Stacy Markow is a former professional cook who recently relocated to Dallas from Portland, Oregon. When she’s not  local Texas edible treasures, she is a full-time hospitality consultant and studying to become a certified sommelier. You can read more about her life on her personal blog at www.stacymarkow.com.