Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Black-eyed Pea Salad

Black Eyed Peas salad

When I was growing up, my mother, who is from Virginia, always cooked black eyed peas on New Year’s Day, for good luck, and she still does to this day.  This is a Southern tradition dating back to the Civil War: In the Southern United States, eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day is thought to bring prosperity in the New Year.  The practice of eating black-eyed peas for luck is generally believed to date back to the Civil War. At first planted as food for livestock, and later a food staple for slaves in the South, the fields of black-eyed peas were ignored as Sherman's troops destroyed or stole other crops, thereby giving the humble, but nourishing, black-eyed pea an important role as a major food source for surviving Confederates.  I personally never liked them because as far as I could tell, she merely boiled a bag of frozen black eyed peas and served them on New Year’s Day.  They tasted gummy and starchy.  After I married and moved to Southern California with my tasting partner, I realized I did not have any black eyed peas for the New Year.  I ran around looking for black eyed peas to serve in order to keep the tradition going and in case they did bring good luck, I certainly did not want to miss out.  I found only a bag of frozen peas, and of course, the peas tasted gummy and starchy.  It took a number of years before I found a good black eyed pea recipe, but I finally found one and modified it and have used every year since.  It tastes better the next day, so I try to make it on December 31 for the best flavor.

recipe after the jump

Black Eyed Peas Salad

12 servings

1 bag (12 ounces) dried black eyed peas, soaked overnight and then cooked and drained according to package directions


1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 ½ Tablespoons coarse grain Dijon mustard
2 ½ teaspoons sugar
1 cup olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¾ teaspoons pepper

Prepared black eyed peas
2 medium red peppers, diced
1 red onion, small diced
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

For vinaigrette:
Whisk vinegar, mustard and sugar in medium bowl until sugar dissolves.  Gradually whisk in oil, add garlic, salt and pepper.  Can be made ahead, bring to room temperature if chilled.

For the salad:
Combine prepared black eyed peas, bell pepper and red onion in a large bowl.  Add prepared vinaigrette and toss.  Refrigerate at least 6 hours, or over night.  Bring to room temperature before serving, and toss in chopped Italian parsley. May also be served over baby lettuce leaves, or arugula.

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