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
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.