Save for taking a few day trips into West Virginia and having lived in Maryland, I’ve never really been to the South (Southern United States). Still, I’ve been eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s for good luck ever since I learned of the southern tradition.
It’s not that I believe in superstitions or have an affinity for southern traditions; I just like the idea of starting off the New Year with a ritual, plus, I really like black-eyed peas.
We grew black-eyed peas the last year we lived on the farm, when I was a kid. At harvest time, it felt like everyone came by to help, even my oldest brother, who I rarely saw growing up showed up. I remember happily skipping through narrow plant bushes, picking pods without a care.
We sat outside at dusk, talking and shelling beans. I don’t recall our parents being around (which would explain why people came to help), but I remember my brother made stewed black-eyed peas in palm oil that evening over an open fire, which we sprinkled with gari and had for dinner.
I like that memory, and it makes the tradition of black-eyed peas at the start of the year meaningful to me.
Luck aside, this stewed black-eyed peas is a good switch from the binge of the holidays, if want to start your year off with some healthful meals.
It’s a deeply flavourful and rich comfort food, and also one of the easiest stews to make.
The is just few vegetables and legumes accented with aromatic spices and stewed over time until the vegetables start to break down, they meld and become a thick and deliciously saucy stew.
I make variations of this stew throughout the winter, in big batches, and with different types of beans.
It’s delicious over rice and quinoa, and over roasted potatoes topped with fried sage – the ultimate comfort food!
- 3/4 cup coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 large red onion, sliced
- 2 pounds dried black-eyed peas
- 6 large garlic cloves, halved
- 5 – 6 plum tomatoes, quartered or 1 16-oz whole plum tomatoes
- 6 – 8 fresh sage leaves, plus more for fried sage topping
- 1 tablespoon crushed ginger or ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon harissa paste (or a mix of ground cayenne pepper, caraway, coriander and cumin seeds)
- 1 small habanero pepper, (use half or omit, it’s hot!)
- 3 – 5 cups vegetable broth
- 11/2 teaspoons sea salt (or to taste)
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- In a large pot or saucepan, heat coconut oil over medium-high heat
- Add mustard seeds and cumin, stir and cook for about a minute or so until spices are fragrant and mustard seeds start popping
- Add onions and sauté for a few minutes until onions begin to soften
- Add black-eyed peas, garlic, tomatoes, sage, ground ginger, harissa paste and habanero pepper
- Add vegetable broth to cover beans by an inch (about 3 cups)
- Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered
- Add sea salt about 30 minutes into the beans simmering
- Add more vegetable broth by 1/4-cupfuls as needed to keep beans submerged, until tender (about 45mins to 1hr)
- Skim any foam from the surface, check seasoning and add more salt if required
- Serve warm topped with fried sage and freshly ground pepper