A national leader for creating southern soul food with seasonal, farm-fresh ingredients, Bryant Terry uses farm fresh ingredients while honoring the cultural heritage of the African diaspora, encouraging individuals and families to buy whole foods to improve their physical and spiritual health. In the words of Alice Waters, “Bryant Terry knows that good food should be an everyday right and not a privilege.”
Terry is the author of two previously published cookbooks: The Inspired Vegan and Vegan Soul Kitchen. In his new cookbook, Afro-Vegan, he gives American southern soul food a fresh remix, with cultural influences from Africa and the Caribbean and a vegan spin. Terry introduces new flavors and provides musical soundtracks, inspiring books, and films connected to each recipe. Along the way, he traces the history of traditional southern recipes while providing relevant cultural information.
His recipe for smashed potatoes, peas, and corn with chile-garlic oil (provided below this story) is inspired by the flavors of a Kenyan recipe for irio, a seasoned puree of white potatoes, green peas, and corn that is occasionally mixed with greens. The other inspiration comes from Latin American’s tostones—sliced green plantains that are fried, smashed flat, and fried again until they’re crispy. Terry deconstructs both dishes to create a refreshing and spicy smashed potato recipe that serves as a side dish or snack.
The ingredients used in Afro-Vegan’s recipes work with family budgets, and you can find them in most grocery stores’ produce sections. (But they taste better when brought fresh from farmers’ stands or markets, if you have access to those.) They can easily serve as side dishes to a family barbecue or a holiday menu. I enjoyed Terry’s smashed potatoes with seared cumin duck.
Smashed Potatoes, Peas and Corn with Chili-Garlic Oil
For the chile-garlic oil:
- 4 tsp red pepper flakes
- ⅓ cup peanut oil
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
For the vegetables:
- 3 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2½ tsp coarse sea salt
- 12 small (about 2 inches in diameter) yellow potatoes
- 2½ cups shelled green peas (about 2½ lb fresh peas in the pod)
- 2¼ cups sweet corn kernels
- ¼ cup packed chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Freshly ground white pepper
To make the chile oil, put the red pepper flakes in a small heatproof bowl. Warm the peanut oil in a small skillet over medium heat, then add the garlic and sauté until the garlic is fragrant and just starting to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Pour the oil and garlic over the red pepper flakes and let cool, stirring a few times, for about 20 minutes.
To prepare the vegetables, put 2 teaspoons of the olive oil and ¼ teaspoon of the salt in a large bowl and mix.
Put 2 inches of water in a large pot fitted with a steamer insert and bring to a boil. Put the potatoes in the steamer, cover, and cook until fork-tender, adding more water if necessary, about 45 minutes. Remove the steamer basket from the pot and let the potatoes cool for 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Transfer the potatoes to the bowl with the olive oil and toss to coat. On a clean work surface, gently press each potato with the palm of your hand until about ½ inch thick. With a spatula, transfer to the lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until browning and crispy on the edges.
After the potatoes have been baking for 15 minutes, put the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil and ¼ teaspoon of the salt in the same bowl and mix well. Put about 8 cups of water in a medium pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons salt, then add the peas. Return to a boil, and cook uncovered until the peas are just barely tender, 2½ to 4 minutes. Add the corn and cook for 30 seconds. Drain well, then transfer to the bowl with the olive oil. Add the parsley and toss well.
To serve, top each potato with 3 heaping tablespoons of the pea mixture, drizzle with the chile oil, and finish with a few grinds of white pepper.
If you’d like to substitute frozen peas, thaw them, then add to the boiling water along with the corn and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. To know for certain whether the peas are tender, give one or two a try.
Bryant Terry’s suggested soundtrack to this dish: “Ndiri Ndanogio Niwe” by Mbiri Young Stars from Kenya Special: Selected East African Recordings from the 1970s & 80s
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
About the Author
Sanura Weathers is the author of a sweet, savory, buttery, green and healthy food blog at MyLifeRunsOnFood.com. Her recipes strive to use seasonal and locally-grown ingredients found at the farmer’s market. Using her experience as an online content manager/editor, food writer, social media manager and graphic designer, Sanura creates a visually appetizing food blog redefining comfort and traditional recipes with a healthy twist.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Afro-Vegan by Bryant Terry, copyright (c) 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.