Tex Mex Black Eyed Pea Casserole

Although this does not look super appealing, it was REALLY TASTY and Craig loved it (big deal because Craig is really fussy)!

I am an avid Pinterest user (http://pinterest.com/) and this was a recipe posted on Pinterest from Recipe Girl (http://www.recipegirl.com/2011/12/29/tex-mex-black-eyed-pea-casserole/). It looked easy and I love tex mex (we can’t really get the real stuff here in Australia), so I though this would be a good one to try.

It was actually easier than I thought to find black eyed peas, just from a local deli, about $3-4 for a kilo, and you don’t need much. Also, a while back I bought 4kg of bacon when it was really cheap, so any chance to use up some of my bacon and free up some freezer space. The original recipe called for Rotel tomatoes which i’m sure would be hard to find here, so I just altered the recipe to include green chilies and a can of tomatoes which is pretty much the same! The recipe feeds 6 and takes about an hour.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups dried black eyed peas, rinsed
  • 5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (or more!)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 medium)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups rice (your preference)
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 300g canned diced tomatoes (3/4 of the usual 400g can of tomatoes)
  • 1-2 large green chilies, seeds removed and sliced.
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, cut into strips
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • chopped cilantro, sour cream and sliced avocado (for serving)

Method:

Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Add the dried peas and boil for 30 minutes, or until tender (as tender as a canned black bean would be). You don’t want them to have much of a bite to them, but you don’t want them mushy either. Drain the beans when you’ve got them where you want them.

In a deep medium skillet, heat the olive oil at medium heat. Add onions and chili and cook until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in garlic, then rice, stock, cumin, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and cook for about 20 minutes (just until the rice has almost absorbed all of the liquid). Time will vary depending on the type of rice you choose to use (20 minutes for white rice, but longer for brown, etc)

Preheat the oven to 200C. Scrape the rice into a large bowl. Add peas, tomatoes, spinach, 1 cup of the cheese and bacon. Stir it all together and then scoop it into a 9×12-inch (or similarly sized) casserole dish.

Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and bake for an additional 10 minutes, just until cheese is melted.

Serve in bowls topped with sour cream, fresh cilantro and sliced avocado.

I must admit that both my lovely house guest and cooking assistant Jasmine and I agreed that we wanted lots of cheese on top (a bit naughty) so we added about half a cup extra! I used 5 rashers of bacon this time and I think that next time I will either add more or I will try it with some chorizo.

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