Black-Eyed Peas and Greens

I learned from my daughter Kat, then in Atlanta, that in the South, eating black-eyed peas and greens with cornbread on New Year’s Day is a religion, a sacred tradition! If you do, you will be blessed with good luck, wealth, and fortune. If you don’t, you turn into a pillar of salt. Black-eyed peas are thought to have been brought to this country by native Africans when enslaved around 1600. They thrived because they are easy to grow, with a plentiful harvest. Collard greens were the accompaniment of choice for similar reasons—they were an easy and plentiful crop. They also add healthy nutrients to make a wonderful one-dish meal.

I have always liked traditions and rituals, especially if they are not theistically oriented. Hmm. I was born in the South and spent my early years there. It is legitimate for me to observe this one, if I please. Bring on the good luck, wealth, and fortune! I can use them. Besides, compared with the price of gasoline these days, the meager cost of the ingredients is a welcome break. That’s a good thought for the new year.

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil, olive or grape seed
  • 6 oz shallot or onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup ham stock, or water with 1 tsp ham base, or chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • 1 lb black-eyed peas, fresh frozen, cooked per directions
  • 1 lb collard greens, frozen chopped
  • 8 oz ham or ham hocks, cooked and diced
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • ¼ tsp <sugar>
  • ½ tsp <salt>
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¼ cup pecans, chopped
  • cornbread

Sauté the onion and garlic in the oil until translucent. Add the remaining ingredients, except the pecans and cornbread. Bring to a boil, and let simmer about half an hour, until the greens are tender. Adjust seasonings and serve in bowls topped with the pecans, with cornbread alongside.

Serves 4.