Black-Eyed Pea, Ground Lamb, and Chard Stew

The one-pot meals of the eastern Mediterranean ingeniously combine seasonal vegetables, herbs, and greens with small amounts of meat to create delicious dishes that seem to be designed by a modern nutritionist. Aifer Unsal calls this stew borani—not to be confused with the vegetable and yogurt salads with the same name in the Middle East. Aifer is an outstanding cook and food writer from the Gaziantep—the part of southern Turkey that borders Syria. Apparently the Turkish term borani is used for various stews and salads. This recipe is my adaptation of Aifer Unsal’s borani, from the book Délices de Turquie, which has been translated into many European languages, including Greek.

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The picture, as all the pictures in the book was done by Anastasios Mentis,
a very talented Greek photographer who works in New York.

Makes 4 servings

1 cup dried black-eyed peas
1/ 3 cup olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (optional)
1/ 2 pound lean ground lamb
1 to 2 tablespoons Turkish pepper paste or harissa (North African pepper paste)
1 cup canned chopped tomatoes with their juice
1 to 3 teaspoons Aleppo or Maras pepper or a pinch of hot red pepper flakes, to taste
1 cup dry white wine, vegetable stock, or water
Leaves from 1 bunch of chard, coarsely chopped

Place the peas in a medium saucepan, add cold water to cover by 2 inches, and bring
to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes and drain.

Add fresh water to cover the peas and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the peas are just tender. Drain.

Warm the olive oil in a skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté, sprinkling with salt to taste, for about 4 minutes, or until tender.
Add the meat and sauté until firm and no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Add the pepper paste and toss for 30 seconds.
Add the tomatoes, Aleppo pepper, peas, and wine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the peas are very tender. Add the chard and toss to wilt. There should be only a little sauce in the pan; the dish must have the consistency of a moist pilaf. If it is too watery, increase the heat for a few minutes to reduce the sauce. Taste and add salt, along with pepper if you like. Serve in soup plates or bowls.

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