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Bean Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette
    Makes 4 to 6 main dish servings or 8 starters
1 pound black-eyed peas, washed and picked over
6 cups water
1 medium onion, chopped
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  salt to taste
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
3 - 4 cups baby arugula or salad greens (optional)
For the vinaigrette:    
1/3 cup red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced, pounded or pressed (optional)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons ground cumin
  salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup cooking liquid from the beans
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Combine the black-eyed peas and water in a soup pot, casserole or Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly and spoon off any foam. When all foam has been spooned off, add the onion, garlic, and the bay leaf. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Add salt, about 2 teaspoons, and continue to simmer another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the beans are thoroughly tender but still intact. Taste and adjust seasonings. Drain the beans over a bowl and return them to the pot or transfer to a large bowl. It's fine if some of the broth remains.

2. Mix together the vinaigrette ingredients. Stir into the beans. If serving the beans warm, add the remaining ingredients except the salad greens. If serving cold, allow the beans to cool slightly and refrigerate. Shortly before serving stir in the cilantro and peppers. Taste and adjust seasonings. Line a big salad bowl or platter, or individual plates with the salad greens. Give the beans a stir, pile them onto the greens, and serve.

Advance preparation: The beans will keep for 5 days in the refrigerator, but if you aren't serving them right away, wait and add the cilantro just before serving.

Note: To make this with canned beans, use 4 cans beans, and substitute olive oil for the bean broth. Drain and rinse, and proceed with the salad instructions.

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