>> Saturday, January 1, 2011
Happy New Year!
Do you have New Year's Day meal traditions? I hail from the South, which embraces the humble black eyed pea. The traditional Southern meal to start the New Year has black eyed peas, greens, ham, and sometimes cornbread - or some variation on this culinary theme. Each component is symbolic. The black eyed peas represent coins or prosperity. Greens represent money, and cornbread is the gold. Ham? Well, it's just tasty.
I have to admit, while I grew up in the deep South, this was not a tradition of my family. My parents much preferred other field peas, such as purple hull or zipper peas, to black eyed peas. I ate a lot of field peas growing up (though not by choice), but never, ever black eyed peas. I live in Wyoming now, and field peas other than the black eyed variety are not an option here. I still am not a lover of field peas. I would much rather have some delicious green "English" peas or lima or butterbeans. My husband and son, however, love them, and I regularly cook black eyed peas to satisfy them.
While I am not a big fan of the flavor of black eyed peas, I do like what they have to offer nutritionally. Black eyed peas (and other field peas) are legumes and are essentially considered a bean. They are high in soluble fiber, a good source of protein, and low in fat. While they aren't a powerhouse for vitamins, they are an excellent source of potassium and contain a surprising amount of iron and zinc (and even a little calcium). Black eyed peas are great as a side dish or can be the star of the meal thanks to their protein content.
As a nod to my husband's - a fellow Southerner - culinary heritage, we will be having black eyed peas on New Year's Day. The rest of our meal won't be so traditional, though it will all pay tribute to our Mississippi roots. I have a couple of different black eyed pea recipes that I use depending on my mood. Both are easy, neither have meat in them (though I do use chicken bouillon), and both make black eyed peas something that even I can eat without fuss.
I use frozen black eyed peas exclusively. Canned peas are deceptively salty and not the right texture, and dried peas take longer to cook. If you can't find frozen peas, I would recommend trying dried peas. You'll need to cook them longer, but you can control the final texture and saltiness. I also use chicken bouillon to flavor the peas in one of the recipes. You could substitute chicken or vegetable broth for part or all of the water, use a bouillon or your choice, or use just plain salted water instead.
If you're looking for a black eyed pea recipe to ring in the New Year, give one of these a try and have a prosperous start to 2011!
|Dried Black Eyed Peas|
Easy Black Eyed Peas
1- 12 to 16 oz bag frozen black eyed peas
1 tsp chicken flavored Better Than Bouillon (or bouillon of your choice)
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
water to cover
salt and pepper to taste
Add all ingredients into a medium-size pot. Bring to a boil and let cook for 1.5-2 hours or until the peas have reached the desired tenderness. Stir occasionally and add water to keep the peas just covered.
Tasty Black Eyed Peas
adapted from The 30-Day Diabetes Miracle Cookbook
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 clove garlic, minced
1 - 12 to 16 oz bag frozen black eyed peas
1 1/2 cups water (or more if necessary)
1 1/2 tsp light molasses
1/4 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 1/2 tsp chicken flavored Better than Bouillon (or bouillon of your choice)
3/4 tsp salt or to taste
1 TBSP canned tomato paste
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan and saute the onion, celery, and garlic 4-5 minutes or until tender. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cook for 1.5-2 hrs or until the peas have reached the desired tenderness.