Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Black Eyed Boo-Ya

I can understand why black-eyed peas bring good luck: they are low in calories and rich with a number of nutrients including fiber, calcium, folate, vitamin A, zinc, iron, and potassium. Southern culture may not have been the author of the new year superstition but they certainly have perfected the culinary sentiment. Those of us native to the region enjoy them with greens, cornbread, or other vegetables--and feel as proud as Paula Deen.

January's edition of Woman's Day clued me into local author (he's from our neighbor North Carolina) Rick McDaniel who celebrates this very dish in his book An Irresistible History of Southern Food: Four Centuries of Black-Eyed PeasCollard Greens and Whole Hog Barbecue. His "Hoppin' John" recipe suggests salt pork and rice for the new year. I decided to go the healthier route with turkey bacon (which does not crumble as well by the way) and spinach:


4 slices of bacon

2 cloves garlic

15 oz can black-eyed peas

1/4 cup water

10 oz cup spinach (stems discarded)

salt and pepper to taste

Cook 4 slices bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes; transfer to a plate. Break into pieces. Add 2 cloves garlic (sliced) to skillet and cook until golden brown, 2 minutes. Add a  15-oz can black-eyed peas (rinsed) and 1/4 cup water and cook until heated through. Add one 10-oz pkg spinach, season with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and cook, tossing, until beginning to wilt, 2 minutes. Toss with bacon.

I don't know that there is any food more Southern that black eyed peas. It is one of our blessed traditions in the South to eat black eyed peas on New Years Day, and enjoying them at your dinner table on January 1st is representative of anything from wealth to good health.

It is thought that the tradition of eating black eyed peas for good luck started during the time of the Civil War (think Scarlett pulling up carrots) when Sherman's army took ravaged the South's food resources, but ignored the peas, which are rich in fiber, potassium, and iron

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