Black-eyed peas. What are they? Are they peas or are they beans? Well, both are part of the legume family, but what is the difference? Legumes technically refers to the whole plant package (leaves, stems, and pods), whereas the terms beans or peas refer to the seed found within the pods of a legume plant. So black-eyed peas, as are all peas, are actually the seeds found within the legume plant, and are really beans.
Black-eyed peas have been around for a very long time; since pre-historic times, dating back over 5000 years. They were originally grown in China and India. From China and India, they made their way through Africa and Europe and were a favorite of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. They were food for both livestock as well as the enslaved peoples brought to the West Indies. During the American Civil War, the black-eyed pea crops were spared from destruction because “they were food crops for the slaves”, however, when the South was ravaged by war, these spared crops became a life saving food source for all. Today, as they have been for hundreds of years, black- eyed peas are considered to be a lucky food for those who are from the South, especially when eaten on New Year’s Day and when eaten with collard greens and pork. The peas symbolize coins and the greens symbolize paper money.
As you know, I have very Southern roots. And I still adhere to these Southern traditions for good luck on New Year’s Day, although I do not count out my black-eyed peas to a serving of exactly 365, as is also part of the traditional way of eating them. Triple Good Luck For The New Year I made my black-eyed peas in a salad this year, that I served along side my ham and pretzel bun sliders. Pretzel Buns I did not have collard greens, but I did enjoy my black-eyed peas with ham.
Black-Eyed Pea Salad
This is an easy, quick salad to make that is very full of flavor. I soaked my black-eyed peas for 24 hours before cooking them. When in doubt on how to prepare them, just follow the instructions on the bag.
2-3 cups cooked black-eyed peas, cooled and drained
2 carrots, diced fine
2 celery ribs, dicd fine
1/2 red bell pepper, diced fine
1/2 red onion, diced fine
1-2 TBSP Peruvian peppers, optional
1 TBSP garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
3 TBSP lemon balsamic vinegar, optional
1-2 TBSP lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
Once the peas are completely cooked and cooled, combine them with the vegetables and toss well.
Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing and add to the beans and vegetable mixture, using only as much as needed. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. the beans will soak up the dressing, so if you need to add more before serving, that’s fine.
This delicious salad is perfect anytime. It is NOT only for special occasions or for New Year’s Day. It can be lucky for you anytime you want to eat it, especially since it is a very healthy salad that is high in protein and low in calories. You can also add either ham, bacon, or chicken to this colorful and tasty salad too to make it more of a meal.
Start the new year off lucky by staying well and staying safe. ‘Til next time.