Southerners believe that eating black-eyed peas brings good luck in the New Year, so I try to make Black Eyed Pea Salad every January 1. A fresh interpretation of an old tradition, this has become a favorite side dish on our holiday table.
Black Eyed Pea Salad for Good Luck
Some varieties of black-eyed peas are called “cowpeas” and yes, food history tells us black-eyed peas were cultivated as animal fodder. The foodways of enslaved people included many ingredients that were deemed unsuitable for colonial tables. Black-eyed peas were imported from Africa as a crop that grew easily in different climates. Thus, the black eyed peas became incredibly common food for enslaved families.
In her book Cross Creek Cookery Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings said that “…(cowpeas) are served, with apologies, on city tables, without apology on country tables, and greeted with gusto at both.” If she wrote that apology, I wonder what she would say?
Rawlings is one of my favorite Southern writers as she often uses food as a way to describe the settings and characters in her stories. For me, Rawlings writing bears witness to the culture of race, food and economic disparity in the U.S. …sometimes difficult to read, but always worthy of remembrance, meditation and prayer.
For me, serving black-eyed peas is a moment of remembrance, like a culinary “Auld Lang Syne:” Remembering the past while looking forward to a better future.
Best Wishes in the New Year!
On this New Year’s Day as I post this recipe, I am sending along my best wishes for you as we turn a page of the calendar. Maybe a dish of Black Eyed Pea Salad seems trivial in light of everything our planet has endured in the last 365 days. Nonetheless, we have to restart and rebuild with small intentions. Serving up rembrance and luck are as good a place to start.Print
Black Eyed Pea Salad
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 12 servings
1 1/2 lbs fresh shelled black eyed peas (750g)
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 16oz jar pickled sliced sweet Hungarian wax peppers, drained (453g)
1/2 cucumber, seeded and diced
1/2 cup chopped parsely (12g)
3/4 cup olive oil (180ml)
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar (80ml)
Salt & cracked black pepper to taste
For the salad, place black eyed peas in a medium saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and simmer gently for 18-20 minutes. Drain water and cool completely.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the bell pepper, onion, and wax peppers. Toss in the cooled black-eyed peas.
For the dressing, in a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. When ready to serve, pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine well.
Add the dressing right before serving. Combine ingredients gently so that black eyed peas remain whole. I will admit there have been dishes of black eyed peas that I have turned down because they were poorly cooked. Frozen or canned black eyed peas are convenient, but can taste bitter or mushy when served. Only fresh black eyed peas are suitable for this recipe.
Feel free to be crative with this salad. Chopped carrots, cauliflower, celery or broccoli would be delicious additions, especially is you have leftover cooked vegetables from a prior meal.