Marlin’s Black-Eyed Pea Salad

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

Follow Judy’s Chickens on Instagram and Pinterest @JudysChickens.

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© 2014-2020 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may not be reproduced without the written consent of Judy Wright.

@judyschickens Everyday Salad Dressing

When your son calls and asks, “How do you make salad dressing, Mom?” first, you melt, and then you get busy blogging. After all, wasn’t that the reason you started blogging, so your kids could have easy access to THE recipes with a few good Big Fat Italian stories thrown in for good measure?


Salad dressing is a staple you might want to consider making from scratch. It’s easy to make and nice to have readily available, there are no preservatives or sugar in it, it doubles as a last-minute chicken, pork tenderloin, or steak marinade, and as long as you keep olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic pepper, and salt in the cupboard you’ll never run out. Once you start making your own, it will become second nature to keep the vinaigrette bottle full.

Yield:  One cup (easily doubled or quadrupled)

⅓ cup red wine vinegar (not red wine balsamic*)
⅔ cup extra virgin, first cold pressed, olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon McCormick California Style Garlic Pepper


*I do not make this make-ahead vinaigrette with balsamic red wine vinegar. For some reason, the mixture turns syrupy when I do. I know not why. It doesn’t happen when I use white wine balsamic vinegar.

Mix all ingredients together and shake. Store at room temperature. When measuring,  I eyeball the vinegar and oil — one-third vinegar to two-thirds oil — and use a measuring spoon for the salt and garlic pepper. I’ve been making this salad dressing for 20 years. I had no idea my kids had noticed.

The key ingredient is McCormick’s California Style Garlic Pepper with Red Bell and Black Pepper. I prefer garlic pepper to garlic salt because I have more control over the amount of salt since I can see the pepper to garlic ratio. You can’t say that about garlic salt. I also use garlic pepper in marinades, rubs, and as a prime seasoning ingredient for roasted vegetables. It’s how I push the easy button when making dinner day in and day out. True confession: I travel with it on vacations when I know I will be cooking.

Here’s my favorite winter salad, Grapefruit and Greens Salad:


And, my favorite spring salad, the Lily Pulitzer Salad.

And, my favorite potluck summer salad, affectionally known as Meera’s Trader Joe Salad

During the summer, I use the marinade to make Lemony Grilled Chicken Breasts every time we have a crowd to feed for dinner.


A few other salads dressed with this vinaigrette:

Roasted Beet Salad with Vinaigrette

Blanched String Beans with Vinaigrette

Marlin’s Black-Eyed Pea Salad


P.S. I have searched for years for a better drip-free salad dressing bottle than my 15-year-old Tupperware jar (on the left, in the first photo). I finally found one I like. It’s made by OXO.


Follow my photos of vegetables growing, backyard chickens hanging out, and dinner preparations on Instagram at JudysChickens.

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© 2014-2019 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

Spring Planting Guide for Your Kitchen Garden

A hot pink and green salad. Mother Nature is a creative genius.
DSC_0342This is a close up of the salad we had for dinner this week. We call it the Lily Pulitzer Salad. Every part of it came out of our garden: lettuce, radishes, pea pods, dill, green onions, and tasty radish flowers. I am beaming with delight! To think, these vegetables all started as SEEDS that grew in DIRT, and now they’ve become something delicious, nutritious, and gorgeous! #whywedoit

Here is the newly seeded front garden on Sunday, March 15th.

Here it is ten weeks later.

This garden space is 20 by 30 feet. The fence was made using a roll of four-foot chicken-wire framed by wooden posts. Eighteen-inches in from the fencing, I “planted” a necklace of recycled upside-down wine bottles to separate the planting space from the footpath. Because this garden space is never walked on, there is no soil compaction, thus no need for tilling. I reserve the center of the garden for summer crops.

The first vegetable I plant is always peas. I plant them sometime between Valentine’s Day and March 15th, depending on the weather. A few weeks before planting, I invite the chickens inside to scratch up the dirt as they look for bugs (tilling), eat the CHICKweed (weeding), and leave their nutrient-rich poop (fertilizer) — a free-for-all for them and a bonanza for me!
Veg garden

To prepare the necklace for planting, I use a pitchfork to lightly aerate the soil, trying to not disturb old roots and worms who do the bulk of the work of loosening the soil during the winter.

Next, I plant peas along the fence for support, spring onion sets in the middle, and one row of radishes next to the bottles. I was careful to space the radish seeds four inches apart for better root formation this season. I planted many different varieties of radishes.

March 15th

March 30th

April 17th

April 30th

Here is What I Planted Inside the Front Necklace Garden:

Sugar Ann Peas
There is an old gardening tradition that says to plant your peas on Valentine’s Day. That is always the goal, but seldom the reality. This year was no exception. In fact, we were iced-in for most of February, and I didn’t get to plant anything until mid-March. This may be the reason my Sugar Ann peas failed so miserably. The other reason is they probably got crowded out by the quick growth of the onions and radishes in front of them. Next year, I may start the peas two weeks earlier than the onions and radishes or soak the peas before planting for quicker germination.

I typically plant two varieties of peas: a sugar snap and a snow pea. They grow in the same way. And both need vine support.

May 21

Sugar Snaps are an edible-podded cultivar that have plump peas inside. They are a cross between shelling English peas and snow peas. They are super sweet and hardly ever make it to the kitchen.

vegetable gardens vegetable gardening

Snow peas also have flat edible pods and are not as sweet as snap peas.


They are often used in Asian cooking. Look for a “stringless” variety. The chickens love pea plants and often eat whatever pokes out of the fencing.


Spring Onions (aka Scallions or Green Onions)
Sets planted 3/15. Harvest started six weeks later and is ongoing. I plant the purple variety because I love the color, and you can’t find them in a grocery store. I planted 200 sets this year; I cannot get enough of spring onions.

For more information on growing spring onions, radishes, and turnips, go to my blog post, Urban Farming Part 1: Fall Planting.

“Easter Egg” Radishes
Seeds planted 3/15. 30 days to maturity. Started harvesting on 4/17. Sweet, mild, crispy, and colorful. Flowers and leaves are edible.

spring garden

“Red Meat” Radish (aka “Watermelon” Radish)
Planted 3/15. 50 days to maturity. Started harvesting on May 18. Crisp, have more of a bite, and have a beautiful hot pink color inside. Their leaves and flowers are edible, too.

Cauliflower and Broccoli
On each end of the rectangular garden, I planted cauliflower and broccoli seedlings. Both crops were a failure. Something ate all the leaves within one week of planting. Every spring, I swear I will not grow these two vegetables, and every year I cave when I see them at the garden center. I remember the glory days when I grew gorgeous broccoli plants but forget about the pesticides I used to keep insects away. Now that I have free-range chickens, I do not use any insecticides (or herbicides) in my backyard. I often joke that my hens keep me honest whenever I get tempted.

Here is What I Planted in the Back Raised Bed Garden:

“Premier Blend” Kale
Seeds planted March 23. Days to maturity: 28 baby-size, 55 bunching. Harvesting began in late April.

“Bright Lights” Swiss Chard
Seeds planted 3/23. Days to maturity: 28 baby-size, 55 bunching. Harvesting began 5/26

“Hakurei Hybrid” Turnips
Seeds planted 3/23. Days to maturity: 38. Harvesting began 5/26

These small, white, crisp, sweetish turnips have been the tastiest surprise of all the vegetables growing in my garden. When sliced, they can be used as low-cal scoops for dips like hummus. As with other turnip varieties (and radishes), you can cook the greens. I like to sauté them with green onions and garlic in olive oil.

Planted as seedlings 4/2. Days to maturity 55. I haven’t started harvesting the beets yet because they are still small. I have, however, been harvesting the beet greens. I should have separated the seedlings when I first planted them for better root ball formation. New gardening rule: all plants with edible roots need to be planted with sufficient space around them for root ball formation!

“Red Norland” and “Yukon Gold” Seed Potatoes
Sets planted 3/16. Harvesting began 5/26.  To prep seed potatoes for planting, slice the potatoes into 2″ chunks with 1-2 “eyes” each. This is called “chitting.”

vegetable gardening

Allow to dry out for a couple of days to form calluses to help prevent sets from rotting in the soil.

vegetable gardening

When the potato leaves turn yellow, it’s time to harvest, but you can start digging for “new potatoes” long before that.

April 4th

May 19th
garden 5/19

May 25th

Every bit of this colorful food was harvested on April 17th!


Related Articles:
Seed Starting in Recycled Milk Jugs @judyschickens
How to Build a 4 x 4 Raised Garden Bed
Spring Porch Pots!
Morning Rounds in the Garden, April
Morning Rounds in the Garden, May
Fall Planting Guide for Your Kitchen Garden
WWMD? A Bucket of Spring Veggies as a Centerpiece
Edible Landscaping with Nashville Foodscapes


Follow Judy’s Chickens on Instagram and Pinterest @JudysChickens.

If you enjoyed this post, consider becoming a follower. Be sure to press “confirm” on the follow-up letter sent to your email address.

© 2014-2021 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may not be reproduced without the written consent of Judy Wright.