Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Good Luck for the New Year, Southern Style

As we approach the end of the year and the end of the holiday season, I always reach for one certain pantry staple.

If you grew up in the South or your family has Southern roots, you probably know that black eyed peas are considered lucky in this region of the country. People serve them on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day in many different ways. My mother used to make black eyed peas with ham and serve them with cornbread. My Southern grandmother served Hoppin' John with hush puppies.

According to my family, black eyed peas should be the first thing you eat as the year changes and we leave behind the old to take up the new, which is the reason I always serve them New Year's Eve. I have made my mother's recipe and my grandmother's recipe. My children would never eat them, not even a bite. Come to think of it, I didn't eat them readily as a child, either. I experimented to find a way to prepare black eyed peas that my children might enjoy. For the last five or six years, this recipe has been a staple of our New Year's Eve celebration:

Black Eyed Pea Salsa

olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped ham
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 15 ounce can black-eyed peas, drained
1 14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon seeded, finely chopped jalapeno pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, ham, and garlic. Saute until onions are tender, about five minutes. Stir in cumin and next three ingredients; bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro and jalapeno. Spoon salsa into a bowl; cover and chill one to eight hours.

Serve at room temperature with pork or chicken or as a dip with crusty French bread or tortilla chips. Yields about 3 1/2 cups.

Those of you who have recently indulged yourselves (you know who you are) will be happy to know this is a healthy, filling treat. Plus it's tasty and lucky to boot.

Happy New Year to you and yours!


laurie said...

well, given that at first glance i thought that was a bowl of beans with ants crawling all over them, i'm thinking maybe i won't go for black-eyed peas this year....

why are they lucky? do you know?

Life As I Know It said...

I have heard of this tradition, but I admit that I have never had a black eyed pea!
Happy New Year!

Devon said...

I love this recipe! In California we call this Texas Caviar... I've no idea why.

Kim said...

Well, yuck, Laurie. Now I might not want them either. Black eyed peas are thought to symbolize wealth, though I am not sure why.

LAIKI, black eyed peas themselves aren't my favorite. I have to combine them with something. They have more of a unique flavor to them than most beans do. Thanks for coming by!

I love this recipe, too. There are many versions of it. This is my favorite, though.

kitten said...

Got to have something green with them black eye peas. Turnip greens or cabbage.
Thanks for the recipe!
We always cook pork, something green & the blackeyes. Hasn't really worked, but we do it anyways!
Happy New Year!

the rotten correspondent said...

The first time my California bred husband tasted black eyed peas he thought someone had dropped them in dirt.

I said, no honey, that's the way they're supposed to taste. I'm still not sure if he believes me.

Megnificent said...

Mmmmmm, we're having black eyed peas with sweet cornbread today. Ours, however, are coming out of a can. :X Shhhhh.

Jenni said...

Even though my mom is from Texas and her parents were from Louisiana and Mississippi, she rarely fixed black eyed peas for us. She says she just doesn't care for them. We had Shrimp Creole at her house last night to celebrate the new year. I'll have to give black eyed peas a shot. I've had them before and didn't like them, but they were part of a school lunch along with turnip greens. Mississippi school lunches really turned me off to those two things.

Jenni said...

I saw Devon's comment just as I submitted mine. Come to think of it I have had Texas Caviar. It's full of ingredients I don't usually like, but I do like them in this.

Jen said...

Late to the party, here...but we always have Hoppin' John, it's the only way I usually eat black eyed peas. Although your salsa sounds divine. I'll have to try that.

There's a joke 'round these parts that the best way to poison a man is to mix in daddy long-legs spiders with a bowl of black eyed peas, since they look so much alike, and the spiders are supposed to be deadly. I've never tried this...really, I haven't.

Pamela said...

I saw Black-eye peas on another blog. They remind me of the year Karmyn (my eldest) was born.

We were so broke - living in New Mexico -
A lady in the neighborhood gave us a bag of black eye peas.

We ate them for a whole week - that is all we had.

I don't think I've eaten them since. (:

Anonymous said...

I've never heard that one before, and I'm not sure I could eat them either. But we have to respect these old traditions, they were once someone's thought.

CJ xx

Career Guy said...

If you took out the onions, pepper, garlic--that is, everything that has any taste to it, I might try them. We have pork and sauerkraut here for our New Year's luck. I never eat the kraut. That could explain my luck, or lack thereof.

Faye said...

In my part of the "high" south we didn't have black eyed peas. Instead, on New Year's Day we cooked "shuck" beans. I've made hoppin' john many times though--any beans and rice combo--yum!

All the best to you and your family in 2010, Kim.