Many food professionals would have you, the home cook, believe that the culinary tricks they perform and the dishes they create in the kitchen are difficult. And it is true that some...
We like to-do lists around here. We have them for long-term projects and little piddly things like "water plants" or "thaw chicken." We are children of a digital era, and so we use handy software programs to keep our lists in. This gives them the aura of organization, perhaps making the whole affair even more treacherous than old-fashioned, pen-and-paper to-do lists.
The main problem with this strategy is that, after about a month of making to-do lists, you start to lose perspective on which list you should be looking at (nevermind the lists that cross-reference other lists). And in-between all the to-do lists, you start to amass a collection of try-this-recipe, and read-this-article lists. At a point, the pile of lists on our digital desk begins to resemble a Robert Rauschenberg collage gone awry.
It sounds horrific, I know, but we muddle through somehow. The only real tragedy is that a lot of the really fascinating stuff gets lost. I recently rediscovered some lists I made a good eight months ago of recipes I wanted to try from new cookbooks. Ditto some really lovely-looking recipes from blogs I follow. Fortunately, one of these lists happened to be in the right place at the right time, and the stars aligned for me to try something new.
I have a strange weakness for panfried cakes of all kinds. Combine this with a belief that leftovers are fodder for experimentation, and you have a motley crew of patties, croquettes, and fritters, all geared towards making something new from something old. Sometimes, these things don't work out the way I'd hoped, but generally fritters are very accommodating foods, and even the ones that don't hold together very well can be quite tasty.
This week, I had a bunch of black-eyed peas and some puréed pumpkin on the leftovers shelf in the fridge. Two very disparate items, I know, but destined to become one, nonetheless. These light vegetarian cakes are perfect as a main course or as part of a larger meal. I ate mine on a bed of greens with some salsa spooned over them, but I can see them equally at home on a rice bowl, or tucked inside a wrap or tortilla. Season them as you like--I used garam masala because it's a personal favorite, but you could go for some chili powder, five-spice powder, or even herbes de Provence. Throw in some chopped spinach or kale for a chlorophyll kick, or add a minced hot pepper. You could also take this opportunity to add any leftover grains lurking about your fridge--rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth, wheat berries, etc. would all work here. There are only about a thousand directions you could take this.
I used pumpkin purée from a pumpkin I roasted myself, but canned will work just as well. If using "homemade" pumpkin purée, be sure to let it drain for 30 minutes or so as it tends to be more watery than canned.
Adapted from the Sprouted Kitchen blog.
Combine in a large bowl:
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup pumpkin purée
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons garam masala or your spice blend of choice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 egg or 2 tablespoons flax meal to make this vegan
Add and stir to combine thoroughly:
1/3 cup bread crumbs or oat flour to make this gluten-free
In another bowl, coarsely mash:
2 cups cooked black-eyed peas (equal to a 15-ounce can, drained)
Stir the beans into the pumpkin mixture. Heat in a nonstick skillet over medium:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Using a 1/4-cup measure, form the mixture into cakes, and cook in the hot oil until golden brown on the underside, about 4 minutes. Flip the cakes, press them down gently with your spatula, and cook for another 2 minutes or so, until golden brown. Serve warm.