Hamming it up; frugal feast

Got a culinary creative spark today and wanted to make a black-eyed pea and ham bake, not that I’ve ever made one before. I took my quest to Google, where I scanned a few recipes and then figured I’d borrow a bit here, a dash there and cobble it together along with my own kindling to make an original kitchen monstrosity. And, I’ll be darned, it’s more than edible. I’d call it yummy. It’s not a gourmet kind of thing. Rather, something frugal, easy, healthy and casserole dish tasty.

Let’s call it (seen to the right with my van Gogh butter dish)…

WEDNESDAY HAM SESSIONpeasnham

2 1/2 cups dried black-eyed peas

1 onion, chopped

3 carrots, peeled and diced

3 celery stalks, diced

3 garlic cloves, pressed

1/2 to 1 pound ham, diced

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

2 cups ham or chicken broth

14-ounce can of diced tomatoes (fresh if you’ve got ’em)

8-ounce can of tomato sauce

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon basil

1 teaspoon thyme

Olive oil

Dash cayenne pepper

Salt to taste

Directions: In a saucepan, soak peas overnight or for six to eight hours. Drain water and rinse peas. Return peas to clean pot, cover with water and cook until tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Rinse peas when cooked and pour peas, but not the water, into a casserole dish.

While peas cook, saute until tender, garlic, onions, celery and carrots in olive oil. Transfer the mixture to the pea casserole dish. Mix in remaining ingredients, except the cheese, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. When the mixture is bubbling and cooked through, drizzle with cheese and bake until melted. Let cool for 5 or 10 minutes and then serve. And go back for seconds.  (Note: Haven’t tried it on this dish, but beans usually freeze well — not so with potatoes, which get funky and starchy. Freeze in small containers for ready-to-nuke meals.)

Eat well. Be healthy. Enjoy life. Save money. Repeat.

-Christy

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