One of the many creative ways Southerners use black-eyed peas is by combining them with tomato, bell pepper and onion and tossing it all with a tangy vinaigrette to create Texas caviar. Bryant Terry spoons his onto thick slices of rustic bread for a party-perfect appetizer.
Serves 4 – 6
Put the sun-dried tomatoes in a small heatproof bowl and add enough boiling water to cover. Let soak for 5 minutes. Drain the black-eyed peas and rinse them well. Transfer to a medium saucepan and add water to cover by 2 inches.
Bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium, skim off any foam, and partially cover. Cook until beans are soft but still firm, 40 to 50 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon of salt and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain in a colander, rinse under cold water for 1 minute, then set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, warm the oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is crispy and golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Strain the garlic oil through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and reserve the garlic.
Drain the sun-dried tomatoes, finely chop, and put in a blender. Add the lemon juice, vinegar, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, then process. With the blender running, pour in 1/4 cup of the garlic oil in a slow stream and process until creamy.
Transfer the blended mixture to a large bowl. Add the black-eyed peas, tomato, green and yellow bell peppers, onion, jalapeño and half of the cilantro. Stir gently until well combined, then cover and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400° F. Season the black-eyed pea mixture with black pepper and, if desired, more salt.
Lightly brush each slice of bread with garlic oil, saving any leftover for drizzling. Put the bread on a large baking sheet and bake, without turning, until lightly browned and toasted on top, 6 to 10 minutes. Top each slice with a heaping 2 tablespoons of the black-eyed pea mixture. Garnish with a few slices of crispy garlic and a scattering of the remaining cilantro. Drizzle with garlic oil.