Black-Eyed Peas - Tastier Than Fergie
Celebrations that focus on food are the best kind, and New Year's Day down south sees the lowly black-eyed pea elevated to celebrity status in the form of Hoppin' John, the legendary southern delicacy dish which is said to bring good luck if eaten on the first day of the new year. But black-eyed peas are good for much more than that, even in the snow ridden waste lands above the Mason-Dixon line.
Black-eyed peas (really a type of bean) cook more quickly than many dried beans, so don't worry about soaking them the night before. Simply simmer them in a generous amount of water until they're soft - that will take from 25 to 45 minutes, depending on their size and age.
To make Hoppin' John, sauté onion, garlic, and some rosemary or thyme in oil or bacon fat. Add cooked black-eyed peas and rice (more peas than rice, but proportion isn't important) along with some chopped ham, bacon, or sausage, and sauté until everything's cooked through. But don't feel bound by tradition. Black-eyed peas can go anywhere other beans have gone before.
- Black-eyed peas are great spicy, and combine well with greens of all kinds as well as sausages and smoked meats.
- Substitute black-eyed peas for one of the beans in three-bean salad (or just make it four-bean salad).
- Marinate cooked black-eyed peas in oil and vinegar with minced hot pepper, chopped red pepper, and sliced scallions. Refrigerate for at least several hours. (This actually has a name: Texas caviar.)
- Make pea soup with the black-eyed kind instead of the split kind.
- Curry them, either by themselves, with other vegetables, or combined with chicken or lamb.
- Combine them with shrimp or scallops and baby green peas, and toss in a light vinaigrette.
- Add cooked black-eyed peas to potato salad.
- Make lunch out of sautéed collard greens or kale with black-eyed peas and salsa.
Black-Eyed Pea & Ham Soup with Collard Greens
Although this recipe calls for canned peas, you can easily substitute frozen peas or cook up some dried ones.
2 medium onions
2 garlic cloves
8 oz cooked ham
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
10 cups collard greens
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 cans (16 oz each) black-eyed peas
2 tsp cider vinegar
1. Dice the onions and garlic but not too fine. Dice the ham into one quarter inch pieces.
2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute onions, garlic and ham in vegetable oil, stirring occasionally until onion is lightly browned.
3. Prepare the collard greens by removing the stems and finely chopping the leaves. Add greens, chicken broth and water to the onion mixture and simmer for about 20 minutes until the greens are nice and tender.
4. Drain and rinse the black-eyed peas, then mash half of them with a fork. Add the mashed and whole peas to the soup, stir to combine and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Now sit down to your new year's dinner and really enjoy your new (but really old) tradition!
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