Black-eyed peas and I have never been friends. They popped up periodically throughout my childhood like a distant, oddball uncle who made an annual, not-so-pleasant appearance at the family table. As an adult, I’ve avoided them, a decision based solely on memories of mushy, slightly off-tasting spotted beans. This salad has restored my faith in black-eyed peas. It’s light, refreshing and a great way to get your black-eyed pea fix in.
Black-eyed peas are a New Year’s Day staple on tables around the world. In the southern United States the practice of starting the year with a plate or bowl of black-eyed peas is steeped in tradition. The peas are thought to have been brought to the United States during the slave trade. Part of the legume family, vegetables with pods containing a row of seeds, the peas swell as they’re cooked, which is believed to symbolize prosperity and good luck.
Black-eyed peas can also give you the luck of good health as they’re teeming with vitamin A, calcium, folate and fiber. They’re also good for farm soil. George Washington Carver, the acclaimed African-American inventor and botanist, promoted them as a crop because of the valuable nutrients they, like other legumes, create in soil.
Black-eyed peas are traditionally braised with pork or smoked turkey for flavor. Add rice and you’ve got Hoppin’ John, a Southern take on the Caribbean rice and peas dish. They’re used in curries in Indonesia, mashed with peppers and onions and fried in West Africa, and served with sticky rice and coconut milk for dessert in Vietnam.
Happy New Year!
Drain and rinse black-eyed peas throughly before adding them to your salad. Excess liquid will give you a soggy salad!
Making a Vinaigrette