Sunday, January 29, 2012

Good Luck Black-Eyed Peas – January 29, 2012

I grew up in Alabama where we always had black-eyed peas for good luck on New Year’s Day.  I never, stopped to think, however, why black-eyed peas would be good luck.  So, I did a little research and found out that during the Civil War when people were starving in the South, they had to survive on what had always been considered scraps or animal feed in the past.  For the first time, they not only found themselves eating black-eyed peas and ham hock, but feeling “lucky” to have them in order to survive.  Some people even cook a dime in the pot for an extra boost of luck.  I figured this is the perfect meal then for my sight on making great food out of items headed for the trash.  I started by making the traditional version (recipe below), but then I needed a vegetarian recipe with black-eyed peas so all my friends could share in the luck.  I chose a black-eyed pea salad that can be eaten as a side, but is even better eaten with tortilla chips as a salsa.

Traditional Black-eyed Peas with Ham Hock

2 pounds dried black-eyed peas
8 ounces ham hocks
6 cups water
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. sugar
Salt, to taste

Pick over the peas and rinse well before soaking in cold water overnight. Place ham hocks and drained peas in a large pot with water to cover and bring to boil.  Add whole onion, crushed red pepper, sugar, and salt. Add more water if needed to cover peas. Cover tightly and simmer slowly two to three hours or until peas are tender. Serve with hot cooked rice and cornbread.  Serves eight. 

Black-Eyed Pea Salad

1 large diced tomato (or small can of diced tomato)
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, drained

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the rice wine vinegar, canola oil, sugar, salt and pepper. Toss all together and let marinade for up to eight hours in the refrigerator before serving.

Do you have any traditional dishes you love to make that use items the poor could access even during hard times?  Please share!

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