A viewer recently e-mailed me that she wanted to cook black-eyed peas for New Year’s Day but wasn’t sure how to prepare them so that her family would like them. Serving black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day to bring good luck and prosperity has been a tradition in the South-East since the Civil War and there are lots of ways to serve them.
Black-eyed peas are available dried, canned, frozen, and occasionally in the produce section rehydrated so they will cook quickly. If you have dried black-eyed peas, see my cooking instructions below. If you have frozen, or rehydrated, cook them following package directions. And, if you have canned ones, just drain and rinse them. Once you have cooked beans, they can be combined with rice and ham or sausage for a traditional Hoppin’ John, combined with cooked greens and ham, tossed with dressing for a salad or “Texas Caviar,” pureed and seasoned for a dip, or (my favorite) made into cakes and served with a delicious sauce. Check out my recipes for Black-Eyed Pea Cakes with Salsa Mayonnaise and Ham, Potato, and Black-eyed Pea Salad with Creamy Garlic dressing.
If you have dried black-eyed peas, here’s how to cook them:
Black-eyed peas are really beans and are cooked as you would cook other dried beans. Pick through them and discard any discolored peas and small stones. Rinse the peas thoroughly and bring them to a boil over high heat in unsalted water to cover by several inches. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer the peas until they are tender, 45 to 60 minutes, adding salt half way through the cooking time. The cooking time for dried beans of all sorts varies a great deal depending upon the temperature at which they have been stored and the amount of time they have been on the shelf.