Black-eyed peas and collard greens are often a go-to dish during New Year’s celebrations because they’re said to bring luck and prosperity.
The tradition has a long history; one of the first records is found in the Talmud, a central text of Rabbinic Judaism. It has been customary to eat black-eyed peas on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, for hundreds of years, but this dish also has history stemming from the African diaspora and has been spread throughout the Southern United States.
According to American folklore, eating black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Year’s Day began in African-American communities during the Civil War. Cris Phillips of our Urban Agriculture team says “Traditionally every Black household served black-eyed peas and collard greens as part of every New Year’s celebration to remember the years during slavery when the black-eyed peas represented the hard times and provide an abundance of servings.”
While black-eyed peas are said to have the power to bring luck, they also provide hearty, nutritious meals during the winter months because of their volume when cooked. Similarly, collard greens symbolize money and hope for the future, but are hardy crops able to survive harsh winter temperatures. The resilience and resourcefulness of these plants reflect the values of those who eat them. As Cris says, “At dinner families are reminded that they must continue to think positive and work hard to have more money so they can improve their lives.”
If you want to try out black-eyed peas and collard greens at your table this New Year’s, check out our recipe below! But, however you like to celebrate, Cris Phillips and the rest of us at Appetite For Change wish you good luck and good health in 2023.
Black-Eyed Peas and Greens
- 1 cup dried and sorted black eyed black-eyed peas, soaked over night (substitute: 2 cans of black-eyed peas)*
- 1 bundle of thyme (optional)
- 4 garlic cloves (2 smashed, 2 minced)
- 1 ½ pounds mustard greens ribs removed, leaves coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons tamari sauce (or soy sauce)
- 1 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)
- Kosher or sea salt
*If using canned black-eyed black-eyed peas, wash early in the strainer and set aside. If using dried black-eyed black-eyed peas you can do any of these three options:
1) Soak black-eyed black-eyed peas in water over night for 8 to 12 hours, or
2) Place black-eyed black-eyed peas in Crockpot. Cover in water twice their amount and turn Crockpot on low for about 6 hours, or
3) Bring 10 cups of water to boil. Add 2 cups of dried black-eyed black-eyed peas and return to a boil. Boil 2-3 minutes and set aside at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.
Optional: add bay leaf to any of the above methods.
- 2 medium saucepans
- 1 large saute pan
- Cutting board
- Wooden spoon or spatula
- Measurement cups and spoons
Things Kids Can Help With
Sort the black-eyed black-eyed peas, skim the foam from the black-eyed black-eyed peas, remove the green leaves from the ribs, press the garlic, mince onions if capable of using a knife with supervision, stirring the aromatics (onion, ginger, etc.), stirring the greens, mixing in the sesame seeds and tamari/soy
- Add the black-eyed peas, thyme bundle and smashed garlic to a medium saucepan and cover them by 4 inches with water.
- Bring to a boil and skim off any foam.
- Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer partially covered just until tender (about 50-60 min).
- Add ¼ teaspoon sea salt during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
- Drain the black-eyed black-eyed peas and reserve 2 cups of the cooking liquid
- In a medium sized saucepan over high heat bring approximately 3 quarts of water (2/3 of the pan full) to a boil and add 1 tablespoon salt.
- Add the greens and boil uncovered for 3-5 minutes until softened. Drain and set aside.
- In a large saute pan or medium sauce pan over medium-low heat, combine the oil, onion, ginger, red pepper flakes and ¼ teaspoon salt and saute stirring often until softened (3-5 min)
- Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes stirring often.
- Add the greens, black-eyed black-eyed peas, reserved bean cooking liquid (add additional stock or water if using canned black-eyed black-eyed peas) and vegetable or chicken stock to the pan and stir.
- Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally until greens are tender 20-30 minutes.
- Stir in the sesame seeds and tamari/soy sauce and serve.
Alexander, S. (2021, July 29). Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day: A Southern tradition for luck and prosperity in the new year. The Spruce Eats. Retrieved from https://www.thespruceeats.com/your-black-eyed-pea-questions-answered-1640029
Hayes, H. (2022, October 26). Why we eat black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Year’s. Southern Living. Retrieved from https://www.southernliving.com/holidays-occasions/new-years/new-years-traditions-black-eyed-peas
Terry, B. (2012). The Inspired Vegan. Da Capo Lifelong Press.