It’s Lent again. In fact, we’re halfway through it, and that means George and I are halfway through the third-world recipes that come each year with the Catholic Relief Services’ rice bowls.
I don’t intend to write here about praying, fasting and almsgiving, although those are the practices of Lent and it all does have something to do with those recipes for simple meals. Spend less on the grocery bill, share what you save with others–it’s a good system.
It also makes for excellent meals, if you’re game to try things you wouldn’t normally eat. Gallo pinto and fatet laban have become regulars on our menu since first trying them during past Lents. This year, it’s bean cakes.
I know, they don’t sound appetizing at all. When George asked me what we were having that Friday (meatless Fridays for Catholics during Lent) and I told him “bean cakes,” his face fell. The list of ingredients didn’t make him or me feel any more hopeful. Can you say o-r-d-i-n-a-r-y?
Well, surprise! This was another of those sleeper meals that we’ll add to our regulars. We both smacked our lips–literally–as we put away those bean cakes and realized, for the nth time, that eating simply does not have to mean eating bland.
Here’s the recipe:
• 1 can black-eyed peas, drained
• 1 small onion, chopped
• 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
• 1 egg, whisked
• 1/2 t. salt
• 1/2 t. black pepper
• 1 C. flour
• 1/4 C. vegetable oil
Place the black-eyed peas in a blender with the onion, carrots and egg. Blend to a smooth paste, and add salt and pepper. If bean mixture has too much liquid to form cakes, add flour, 1/4 cup at a time to thicken until you can form into cakes. Divide into 6 to 8 portions and place in hot vegetable oil. Flatten each one into a disc using a spatula. Fry until browned (about 5 to 7 minutes), turning occasionally. Serve with rice.
I didn’t have a can of black-eyed peas so I cooked up some dried peas. I found I did have to add flour to get it thick enough for cakes. And serving with rice just seemed like too much starch, so I substituted a few corn chips for crunch, and some fruit.
This meal comes from Burkina Faso, and I confess I’d never heard of the country so we Googled it, of course. We learned that Burkina Faso, formerly known as Upper Volta, is in Western Africa, and exports huge amounts of meat to other parts of the world. However, it’s one of the poorest countries in the world, and the people grow a lot of beans for their own use. You can see a video about the country and one woman, Safiato, by clicking here.
So, whether you’re eating simply for Lent or just trying to cut down your grocery bill, try this. I’d be really surprised if it didn’t become a favorite at your house, too.