Friday, June 6, 2008

The Beautiful Black-Eyed Pea Salad of Marvelous Martha

I won’t lie: Martha Stewart intimidates me. It could be her resemblance to my college landlord, a small-town Leona Helmsley who should be strung up by her Brooks Brothers mom jeans. It could also be that she’s from New Jersey, the home state of not one, not two, but THREE ex-boyfriends. But really, I think it’s her WASPy, spotless mastery over all things home-based. If domestic situations are Northern Africa during World War II, she is their perfectly-coiffed, pearl-bedecked Patton.

Yet, while Stewart’s knack overwhelms and frightens me (Unfrozen Caveman Blogger?), I also want her power: her oft-lauded ability to organize, design, and prettify. Because? Occasionally? I crave matching blue toile napkins. I need to spread silver-embossed sugar beads on my immaculately-leveled, seafoam-green cake fondant. I MUST align my freshly-picked gladiolus centerpiece with the beachgrass placemats I’ve woven with my antique Colonial loom.

Don’t get me wrong - I adore my ramshackle 110-year-old apartment building and Rancor table decorations, but sometimes a lady’s gotta stop swilling Brooklyn Lager for a sec and lose herself in monogrammed Hamptonian dreams.

That’s why, when Miss S. publishes cookbooks like Everyday Food, I secretly go nuts. All of a sudden, without resorting to Marthabduction, her authority and competence are in my grasp. Take the Black-Eyed Pea Salad, for example. It’s healthy, soul-fulfilling, and gorgeous to gaze at, like an edible Norman Rockwell painting. Actually, it won’t cost nearly as much, so maybe it’s more like a Rockwell first draft. Either way, it will make you think, “Wow. I’m awesome.”

Things to know:

1) Like EF’s Turkey Burgers from earlier in the week, these servings dwarf most mountain ranges. The salad will make six sides (instead of four) pretty easily, especially if you have kids. It’d knock the calculations down to about 136 calories, 4 g fat, and $0.60 per person, too.

2) I cut the oil and vinegar by a quarter, which didn’t affect the taste and saved a few grams of fat.

3) This takes about ten seconds to assemble.

Even if it’s not this salad, I encourage readers to indulge your inner Martha, if only for a single meal. Because, while a constant stream of handmade gift wrap and artisanal clay garden gnomes might be too much, they’re pretty darn satisfying in small doses.

Black-Eyed Pea Salad
Serves 4 generously
Adapted from Black-Eyed Pea Salad.

1 teapsoon Dijon mustard
1-1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 can (15 ounces) black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, finely diced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper

1) Combine wet ingredients (mustard, vinegar, oil) in a medium bowl. Whisk together. Dump all the veggies in and stir thoroughly to combine. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature or cold.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
204 calories, 6 g fat, $0.92

1 teapsoon Dijon mustard: 5 calories, 0 g fat, $0.06
1-1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar: 5 calories, 0 g fat, $0.02
1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil: 185 calories, 21 g fat, $0.09
1 can (15 ounces) black-eyed peas: 315 calories, 0 g fat, $0.89
1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn kernels: 267 calories, 2.1 g fat, $0.69
1 red bell pepper: 31 calories, 0.4 g fat, $1.72
2 scallions: 9 calories, 0 g fat, $0.19
Coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper: negligible calories and fat, $0.03
TOTAL: 817 calories, 23.5 g fat, $3.69
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 204 calories, 6 g fat, $0.92

(Photo courtesy of Wired Magazine.)


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