$10 Dinner: Black Eyed Peas with Sausage and Sweet Potato Greens
This is part of my series of $5 dinners to raise awareness of hunger in America for No Kid Hungry. The average SNAP (food stamp) recipient receives about $4.50 per day in benefits. To read more about the series, click here.
Ok first, I have to make a confession: this is actually a $10 dinner. However, the amazing organization Wholesome Wave doubles federal nutrition benefits at local farmers markets all over the country. I went to Grant Park Farmers Market, one of Wholesome Wave Georgia‘s partner markets, and gave myself a $10 budget for a dinner for two (since $5 of SNAP benefits would be worth $10 there). I ended up making a sort of stir fry with black beans, hot sausage, and lots of veggies. It honestly took me no more than 25 minutes to make, so it’s not only healthy and inexpensive, but quick, too!
This recipe features the following items from local Atlanta area farmers:
fresh, organically grown black eyed peas: fiber and protein make them super filling
pasture-raised Berkshire pork sausage (hot): pork raised on a certified organic farm with no antibiotics or hormones
organically grown garlic: a great way to add flavor inexpensively
organically grown sweet pepper: sweet and full of vitamins
organically grown sweet potato greens: the above-ground portion of sweet potato plants that are sweet and nutrient-packed
organically grown sun gold tomatoes: nature’s candy… enough said
2 c fresh black eyed peas
1/3 lb hot breakfast sausage (pork)
2-3 cloves garlic
1 small sweet pepper
3.5 c sweet potato greens, packed
1/2 c sun gold tomatoes
How to make it:
Rinse black eyed peas, and pick out any debris (leaves, pieces of pod, etc). In a small pot, add 2 c black eyed peas, 1/2 tsp salt, and cover with water. Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20-30 minutes or until peas are tender but not mushy. When finished, drain and set aside.
While the peas simmer, peel and mince 2-3 cloves garlic. Rinse sweet potato greens. Roughly chop leaves and dice stems. Rinse and dice sweet pepper.
Brown 1/3 lb breakfast sausage in a large pan over medium to medium high heat, using a spoon or spatula to break up large chunks. Once browned, remove sausage from pan and set aside (place on paper towels or a brown paper bag to drain extra fat). Spoon out excess grease if necessary.
To sausage pan, add garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Add diced pepper and diced stems of the sweet potato greens and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add sweet potato greens and tomatoes and cook until leaves are just wilted, stirring frequently.
Add cooked black eyed peas and sausage to pan with greens. Combine all ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Any grape or cherry-sized tomatoes work, or you can dice a full sized tomato.
Substitute breakfast sausage for Italian-flavored sausage (pork, chicken, or turkey).
Sweet potato greens can be substituted with any relatively quick-cooking green, like spinach, arugula, kale, baby mustard greens, etc.
If you’re using canned black eyed peas, drain and rinse them, then proceed with recipe as stated. Use 1 can.
For dried peas, soak 1 cup peas overnight in plenty of water (they should approximately double in size).
Notes on my experience:
I usually spend a decent amount of time comparing prices, but I felt like there was a lot more on the line this time. So instead of buying a whole pint of peppers, I had to find someone who sold them by the pound so I could just get one. A lot of times farmers put things in little pint containers because they’re easier to pick up (and they often cost more this way). And even though the total amount was twice as much, I chose 5 small heads of garlic for $3 rather than 1 medium-large head for $1.50. In this case, it made sense to spend more on an item that lasts for a while. It’s sometimes not worth getting the better unit price if it’s an item that spoils quickly, though.
I felt like it was even more important to arrive at the market early for the best selection since I was trying to get everything at one place. Most people receiving federal nutrition assistance don’t have the luxury of shopping at multiple places like I typically do. I also had to pay extra attention to getting enough items for a balanced and filling meal. Not that those aren’t normally goals of mine, but I’m used to having plenty of things in the fridge or pantry to supplement a meal. I chose bulk pork sausage rather than sausage in casing/links because it’s less expensive and easier to divide up between meals. I knew that sausage would have spices in it already, reducing the need to buy more seasonings. Likewise, I knew peppers and garlic would add a lot of flavor, which again reduces the need for more seasoning.
I realize that this isn’t a perfect approximation of actually being a SNAP recipient for several reasons, including that I was able to drive myself to the market and didn’t have to worry about carrying home fresh groceries in hot weather. It was still an eye-opening exercise for me, and I’m grateful for the perspective it provided.