January 2, 2014

New Year Black Eyed Peas

How did you bring in the New Year, do you have any traditions? My roots are southern and we've got one we do every year. Eat Black Eyed Peas. I admit it took a couple decades for me to actually appreciate this tradition. Every New Year my mom would faithfully cook this dish no mater how much complaining she heard or funny faces she would get. I'm glad she kept making it and never gave up because now I love it. My mom's birthday is on New Year's Eve so maybe that's another reason why she stayed strong with the tradition. She loves her veggies and she deserves to have one dish that makes her happy especially around her birthday. HAPPY birthday Mom, I love you!
The further away I get from the South the less common Black Eyed Peas and especially greens are. We use canned greens because it's just easier and they taste really yummy as long as you get the right kind. I actually had a mini freak out when I went to the store here in Colorado and couldn't find them. They were on the bottom shelf in a corner. I suppose they aren't a popular item here.
If you're going with canned greens these are the ones to get!

I believe I briefly shared this tradition on the blog a few years back but I never actually shared the recipe; I don't think I ever made it myself until this year. So have you heard of this tradition before? There are many tales about why we eat black eyed peas on New Years Day. One being to start out the new year for good health. Another being that the peas represent coins and by eating them you will have a prosperous new year. Another is that by eating what is traditionally a poor man's dish you are starting out the new year in a humble way. I like to think of the dish as representing three things:
peas = health
greens = prosperity 
rice = peace

I served my black eyed peas in mason jars this year so we could enjoy seeing each of the layers and I even bottled up a couple to share with friends. I was searching high and low in my house for a pen and a cute way to label the jars. Shesh I'm sick of not being able to find things. My friends might have thought I was slightly crazy for handing them a jar of black eyed peas but hey if they have an amazing 2014 then it was definitely because of the peas ;)
This recipe is pretty simple, one thing to know if you've never cooked with dried beans is that they do require some prep so make sure you have some time carved out where you can do that. Some people soak them over night. We just put them in a pot of boiling water and let them sit off the heat for an hour. You still have to cook them after that though.

Here are the basic ingredients you need to make this dish:
My mom usually uses a ham hock but I didn't have one so I just used bacon. You can use either one or both but if you use bacon you will need to precook it and don't forget to add the grease.

The first thing you do when making this dish is prep your peas. First sort through them. 
You don't want to skip this step, there's nothing worse then finding a small stone in your meal. I remove debris and strange looking peas like this:

After you sort through the peas put them in a pot with lots of water and bring them to a boil. Then just let the peas sit off the heat for an hour. The peas will swell up and get softer but they will still need cooked even more. 
The dish is complete with greens, rice and a side of corn bread if you like. Pick your favorite rice and cook it according to the directions and heat up the greens. Then you layer the rice, the greens and the peas in a bowl or mason jar.  Just like any recipe don't be afraid to make it your own. You could cook fresh greens and use a whatever kind of rice you like. One thing we love to do is pour hot vinegar over the top and add Peperoncini peppers. 
I hope you'll save this recipe to try for next New Year or if you want to try it sooner please do but I can't guarantee a full year of luck since you're eating it after New Year's Day  ;) 


  1. Beans and greens… can’t get much better than that *W* Happy New Year!

  2. I'm from the South too, so I love any type of legumes/beans. Your recipe and presentation of it are well done. Thanks.


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