SERVES 8 AS A SIDE OR 4 AS A MAIN
TIME: 55 MNUTES
4 large bell peppers, any color
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small-yellow onion, chopped finely
2 jalapeños, cut in half, seeded (if you don’t want too much heat), and sliced finely
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 dried bay leaves
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons paprika (smoked paprika if you’ve got it)
3 sprigs or 1 tbsp fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed (about 4 cups)
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Preheat the oven to 325°F and grease a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish with a little olive oil. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Cut the peppers in half lengthwise through the stem end. For aesthetic purposes, try to leave the stem in tact on one side; if you can’t manage it, nbd. Remove the seeds and membranes (aren’t you glad we are talking about vegetables). Submerge the peppers in the boiling water and cover. Let them boil for 5 minutes, then drain them immediately and rinse with cold water to cool them down.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the onions, jalapeños, and celery for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic halfway through.
Add the bay leaves, the other herbs and spices, and the salt; sauté for 1 more minute. Add the tomatoes and black-eyed peas, stir and cover, and cook for 10 minutes. If it seems too liquidy then remove the cover and cook long enough to reduce some of the liquid. Mix in the parsley.
Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Try to keep as many thyme leaves as possible by holding the sprig upside down and running your thumb and forefinger down the stem. The mixture will be hot, it’s easier to just remove the herbs while filling the peppers; just keep an eye out for them.
Spoon a little less than ½ cup of the veggie mixture into each pepper half. Again, the filling will be hot, so be careful when you are handling it. Place the pepper halves in the casserole dish and bake for about 25 minutes.