Our New Year started off with black-eyed peas, collard greens and corn bread, according to southern folklore, the first food to be eaten on New Year’s day for good luck and prosperity throughout the year ahead. The tradition of eating Black-eyed peas is believed to date back to the Civil War. The crop was planted for livestock, and later was a food staple for slaves, the peas representing coins, the greens paper money and corn bread gold.
Growing up I did not care for black-eyed peas, my mother prepared them with okra and ham hocks and as a child I hated and still do, slimy okra. As an adult I discovered I loved black-eyed peas and discovered a lot of different ways to prepare them. My favorite recipe is one from Marcus Samuelsson.
According to Marcus, black-eyed peas originated in West Africa, where it is a popular ingredient in a number of dishes. I love this recipe because it has coconut milk and curry which I love.
1 cup black-eyed peas – I use the fresh ones when I can find them, if not the frozen ones will do as well
olive oil – the recipe calls for butter but I prefer olive oil
1 medium red onion
1 scotch bonnet chili, seeds removed, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped
one 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 cup of coconut milk
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 cup non-chicken stock (the recipe calls for chicken stock I use the vegan version
1 teaspoon of salt
2 cilantro sprigs, chopped
1 scallion trimmed and sliced
Prepare peas separate ie. cook until tender but not mushy.Drain and set aside.
Heat Oil in deep pot over medium heat. Add onion, tomatoes, and chili and saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, and coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Stir in the turmeric and broth and bring to simmer, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.Add the peas and salt and simmer until most of the liquid is absorded, about 20 minutes.
Stir in the cilantro and scallion, and serve.
I like to serve my black-eyed peas with quinoa or brown rice, along with a salad or collard greens and I’m a happy camper.