I’ve learned my lesson when it comes to tofu.

black eyed

That is, I only like it when it’s deep fried and covered in kung pao sauce. The rest of the time, I can leave it be, especially when it tries to make an appearance in my mac and cheese. So when I decided to pick a recipe from the Moosewood Restaurant New Classics cookbook, I set a no-tofu rule. No tofu masquerading as cheese, no silken tofu masquerading as yogurt, no blended tofu masquerading as cream. Just good ol’, non-tofu vegetarian food.

Note to angry vegans: I do not begrudge you your tofu. Also, why are you still hanging around? Haven’t you learned your lesson? My readers, they are not kind to the tofu, and I don’t stand in the way of the hate train.


I also wanted something quick, because I need to go to bed early tonight so I can get up as the ass crack of dawn tomorrow morning. And vegetarian + quick and easy can only add up to one thing: beans. Or, in this case, black eyed peas in the form of Indian skillet beans.

This was a double win, because both Brian and I had been craving Indian food last night, but the only Indian joint we could find on was called something like “Horn OK Happy Indian” and the chicken tikka masala was $13 a serving, which is highway robbery for takeout Indian. Indian food should not cost more than $6.95, and should come in buffet form. Unlimited samosas for everyone!

I started sauteeing some onion, garlic and ginger while I got the spices together; a blend of cayenne, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander and cumin. I also drained a can of black eyed peas and rinsed off the nasty can juice.

skillet beansspinach

The spices and peas went into the skillet along with some tamarind concentrate and water.

Tamarind concentrate is some dark and viscous goo that clings obstinately to whatever utensil/countertop/human skin it touches. It’s like the devil’s semen. But damn it if as soon as the tamarind hit the heat, the smell emanating from the pan immediately began to read as Indian and my mouth immediately began to water.

I added a tomato just-plucked from my garden and, when the beans and tomato had simmered for a few minutes, some baby spinach.

Speaking of my garden, which is apropos of nothing here, I am currently experiencing Critical Chile Mass. Habanero, cayenne, jalapeno and something questionable called an “inferno.” I would appreciate your leaving me any good recipes that will use up a shit ton of chiles. Brian would prefer something pickled. Hup to.


While the spinach finished wilting down, I threw together a quick raita – yogurt, cucumber, mint and a little cumin.

Real yogurt that, at one point, came from a cow. Not a soybean. Just specifying.


I heaped the peas and spinach into my bowl, added a dollop of raita and sat down to the best Indian food a $0.79 can of black eyed peas can buy. This is my kind of vegetarian. It was hearty, satisfying and well-spiced. The raita was a welcome foil to the cayenne’s kick.

Admittedly, this is kind of a cheap shot for a Smackdown, because I could have very easily made something very similar without a recipe. So, you know, discount me if you will; I can take it.