Warm Southernpea, Fennel, and Tomato “Salad”

Preparation info

  • Serves


    as a side dish

    Appears in

    Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini

    By Elizabeth Schneider

    Published 2001

    • About

    Not exactly a salad or a side dish, this mélange plays both roles. (For a more salad-like look, serve on small mustard and spinach leaves.) Cowpeas are tossed with a mix of barely wilted fennel strips, tomato, and red onion, and sharpened with mustard seeds. When the dish is freshly made, the peas contrast with the crisp vegetables; reheated, the textures and colors become more uniform and the effect is more starchy, less vegetably—but just as tasty.


    • 1 pound blackeye, pinkeye, or other cowpeas ( cups shelled)
    • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • About 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 3 medium tomatoes
    • 1 small fennel bulb with greens
    • 1 medium red onion
    • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
    • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
    • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
    • ½ teaspoon sugar


      1. Shell peas. Combine with cold water to barely cover in heavy pot. Add ½ tablespoon oil and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to lowest point, cover, and cook until peas are fully tender, about 25 minutes (but timing varies). Add ½ teaspoon salt, then cool in liquid. (Can be made ahead and refrigerated.) Drain, saving liquid for soup or sauce.
      2. Meanwhile, flame-peel tomatoes (see Note, for method). Halve, seed, and dice. Toss in a sieve with ¼ teaspoon salt; let drain.
      3. Cut off fennel greens and reserve. Cut off stalks and heavy outer layer and cut out core (save for broth). Cut fennel bulb into thin julienne strips about an inch long. Dice onion.
      4. In large skillet, heat 1½ tablespoons oil. Add mustard and fennel seeds and stir and shake over moderate heat until they pop wildly (keep a cover at hand to prevent escapees), about 1 minute. Add fennel and red onion and toss 1 minute, just to lose their raw crunch. Add vinegar, sugar, and tomatoes; toss to heat through. Add drained peas and toss to just heat. Remove from heat.
      5. Chop enough reserved fennel greens to yield about ¼ cup. Stir into peas with salt and oil to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.