Soon after we moved to Nashville from Boston, Marlin, our beloved next-door neighbor, brought over a bowl of black-eyed peas as a New Year’s Day treat. They weren’t your typical, colorless, cooked peas. Marlin, a talented floral designer, is an artist; her peas looked like a beautiful bowl of confetti! She called it “Southern Caviar.” She explained that Southerners eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck.
I’ve been making this bowl of goodness every year since!
The only change I have made to her recipe is to the vinaigrette. You might say I Italianized it a bit.
This is so good. I promise!
Yield: 8 cups
1 pound uncooked black-eyed peas (3 cups dried)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons salt, more to taste
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1½ cups sweet bell peppers: red, yellow & green (½ cup of each color), chopped
¾ cup red onions, chopped finely
2 green onions, including stems, sliced thinly
1 cup Italian flat-leafed parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish
How to Wash, Sort, and Soften Dried Black-Eyed Peas:
Before you cook dried peas, you need to soften them using either the overnight soak method or the quick soak method. I usually decide which method to use based on how much time I have to prepare the recipe.
Either way, the first thing you need to do is rinse and inspect the peas to look for small stones. I happened to find a tooth-breaking pebble in this batch.
1) The Overnight Soak Method: put the washed peas in a pot, cover with 8 cups of cold water, and soak overnight for 6-8 hours. The peas expand to about three times their size while soaking. Drain and rinse in a colander.
2) The Quick Soak Method: Fill a pot with washed beans, add 8 cups of hot water, bring to a boil for two minutes. Cover, turn off heat, and soak for one hour. Drain and rinse in a colander.
Fortunately, you do not have to memorize these soaking methods because most bags of dry beans and peas include the instructions on the package.
To Cook Peas:
Put the softened peas in a pot and add 8 cups of water. Do not salt the water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour. Set your timer. Peas are done when they are tender to eat. If they start to break apart, they are overdone but still usable (the final product will be more hummus-like, which tastes good, too!). When done, drain peas in a colander.
While beans are simmering, make the salad dressing and prep the herbs and vegetables. You will want to add the salad dressing while the peas are still warm so the peas can soak up the flavor as they cool.
To Make Salad Dressing:
Measure olive oil in a liquid measure. To this, add the cider and balsamic vinegars, salt, pepper, oregano, mustard, and garlic. Whisk together and set aside.
To Prep Vegetables:
Wash and seed peppers. I like the confetti look, so I use half of each color of peppers. When chopped, that amounts to about 1½ cups of peppers. I used half an onion or about ¾ of a cup.
To prep peppers and onions for chopping in a food processor, cut into two to three-inch chunks.
Pulse until minced; do not purée!
After I was finished making the salad, I went out to the garden to get more parsley for the garnish. There, I noticed I had a few green onions, so I picked two, sliced them, and used them in the garnish, as well.
I used both the white and green parts of the onion.
To Assemble the Salad:
Place the cooked, drained, and still warm peas in a mixing bowl.
Add the salad dressing and the chopped vegetables. Mix well and refrigerate overnight. Toss once or twice while in the refrigerator. Serve chilled.
Happy New Year!
Other New Year’s Day foods you might want to consider:
New Year’s Day Fare: Collards, Pine Nuts, and Cranberries
Brooks’ Pork Tenderloin with her Amazing Marinade
Cheese Ball Pops!
Award-Winning Buffalo Chicken Chili
My Favorite Silver Palate Chili
Mary’s Award-Winning Chocolate Chip Cookies
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