Black Eyed Peas for New Year’s Day

In millions of households this, as every, year people ate black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day.  Eating these little legumes is supposed to bring good luck and financial prosperity.  Why black-eyed peas you might ask?  There are two main schools of thought that are as different as, well,  black-eyed peas and pumpkins.  Since the time of the Talmud Jews traditionally ate black-eye peas, among other foodstuffs, as symbols of good luck on the Jewish New Year.  The other theory, which explains why this little pea is popular on New Year’s Eve in the southern United States, has to do with the results of field and supply stripping during the Civil War.  Black-eyed peas were considered food for livestock, not people, so was one of the few things left to eat after the troops ate, raided, and carried away everything they thought worthy from farms and homes in the south.  No matter the tradition, you will get a hearty dose of fiber, vitamins, protein, calcium, and flavor with black-eyed peas.  Here are three recipes to start your new year right.  Enjoy.

Green Black-Eyed Pea Soup

  • 2 cups dried black-eyed peas
  • 4-6 cups water to cook peas
  • 6 cups water, veggie stock, or chicken stock
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 large onion
  • 1-2 leeks
  • 2 cups frozen spinach or 4 packed cups fresh spinach
  • 2 Tbs stone-ground mustard
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the peas and put in a large pot with 4-6 cups cold water.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook ~45 minutes until the peas are tender.  Drain off the water, rinse the peas and set aside.  Dry pot and then heat the oil in the bottom over medium heat.  Dice the onion and add to the hot oil.  Mince or finely chop the garlic and add to the onions.  Cook a couple of minutes, stirring often.  Don’t let it start to burn or brown too darkly, it will make the soup bitter.  Add the peas and the stock to the pot and allow to come to a rolling boil then reduce heat to a low boil.  Meanwhile, slice and wash the leeks then add to the soup.  Add in the spinach and mustard and allow to cook for 1/2 hour.  The vegetables should be tender.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot with rice, corn bread, garlic bread, or a side of grits.  You can serve with Tabasco or another vinegary hot sauce to add. 

Confetti Black-Eyed Peas

  • 2 cups black-eyed peas, dried
  • 4-6 cups water for cooking
  • 3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs red wine or cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chili flakes
  • 1 large or two small cloves garlic, chopped fine or crushed
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 red or orange bell pepper
  • 1 green or yellow bell pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • (1 cup crumbled feta cheese – optional)

Rinse peas and then cook them in a large pot in the water for about 45 minutes.  You want them to be tender but not falling apart.  Drain then rinse them well in cold water to cool and set aside to drain again.  Chop the peppers, peeled carrot, and peeled onion into little dice – all the vegetables should be cut to approximately the same size as each other and the same size as the peas.  Make the dressing by whisking together the oil, vinegar, herbs, chili, salt, pepper, and garlic.  Toss with the peas and vegetables and feta if you are using it and let marinate in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours, overnight is fine.  Remove from the fridge at least half an hour before serving, this is best served not fridge cold. 

Gingery Coconut Milk Black-Eyed Peas

  • 2 cups black-eyed peas
  • 4-6 cups water for cooking
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup water or vegetable stock
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 large stalk celery
  • (optional – 1 large or 2 small zucchini)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook peas, instructions as above.  Drain and rinse and hold aside.  Mince or finely chop garlic, peel and grate ginger, and quarter then thinly slice onion.  Heat oil in bottom of pot over medium heat then add the garlic, onion, and ginger.  Cook a few minutes until it starts to lightly brown then quickly add the peas, water, and coconut milk.  Peel and dice the carrot and dice the celery and zucchini if you are using it.  Cook over medium low heat until carrots are tender.  If you need to add water or stock to keep the dish saucy add half a cup at a time.  Season with salt and pepper, serve hot with rice or quinoa.

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