Bryan Terry's hominy and spinach soup in his new cookbook, Afro-Vegan, melds ingredients from Nigeria and North America. Its flavor profile is strictly Nigerian, with plenty of spinach, garlic, and slow-cooked tomatoes. Humble American hominy is added in two stages: one part is simmered in the broth, turning soft and adding a bit of starchiness to the otherwise delicate broth, while the other is fried and added at the end. Terry starts with his rich homemade vegetable stock, which adds an undercurrent of cabbage, carrot, and celery to the backbone of the broth. But the highlight of the dish is the last-minute garnish of crisp, fried hominy. The grain caramelizes and sweetens, tasting at once of movie popcorn and stone-ground grits.
Why I picked this recipe: It's hard to go wrong when you're cooking with hominy.
What worked: It is amazing that such a simple broth—tomatoes, garlic, and a bit of carrot—could be so flavorful. Its sweet tanginess pairs wonderfully with the earthy hominy. Take your time to make each element (including the vegetable broth) from scratch and you won't be disappointed.
What didn't: Be very careful when you fry the hominy. It will pop and splatter. Use the deepest saucepan you've got to help contain the oil.
Suggested tweaks: While Terry calls for small hominy, you can use whichever size of the grain you can find. I had the best luck finding dried hominy at a Mexican grocery store.
Reprinted with permission from Afro-Vega: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed by Bryant Terry. Copyright 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- 1 cup dried small hominy, soaked in water overnight and drained well
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup diced carrot
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 7 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes with juices, chopped
- 5 cups vegetable stock, homemade or store-bought
- Sunflower oil, for deep-frying
- 1 cup packed minced spinach
- Freshly ground white pepper
- 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
Put the hominy in a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to low, cover, and simmer until tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Drain well. Transfer 3/4 cup of the cooked hominy to a clean kitchen towel and rub gently to dry more thoroughly.
To make the broth, warm the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the carrot, onion, and salt and sauté until the vegetables are soft but not browning, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and stock. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Immediately decrease the heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer until starting to thicken, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, line a plate with paper towels. Warm about 2 inches of sunflower oil in a small saucepan until hot but not smoking (about 375°F), about 5 minutes. Gently add half of the dried 3/4 cup hominy. Fry, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the lined plate to drain. Repeat with the remaining dried hominy.
Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing down on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. (Compost the solids.) Return the broth to the saucepan and stir in the unfried hominy. Place over medium-low heat,bring to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the spinach, cover, and cook for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with 2 heaping tablespoons of fried hominy and garnished with the parsley.