New Year’s Day Fare: Collards, Pine Nuts and Cranberries

New Year’s Day is all about starting over. A clean slate. A fresh start. I’m game for all of it. Since moving South, I’ve learned you can improve your chances of having a healthy and prosperous year by eating three foods on this auspicious day: collard greens, black-eyed peas, and pork. The greens represent the color of money and thus, economic fortune, the peas (lentils, in the Italian tradition) represent coins, and plump pigs represent prosperity. Pigs also root forward with their noses representing progress. Compare that to chickens who walk backwards while scratching the dirt for food. No looking back. No chicken for New Year’s Day. I can get into all of it. I consider these foods to be charms for the easy life. But if I’m the one doing the cooking, I’m going to Italianize them; there will be olive oil and garlic used in the preparation of each of them.

To prepare black-eyed peas, check out this blog-favorite recipe, Marlin’s Black-Eyed Pea Salad.


To prepare the pork, try Brooks’s Pork Tenderloin.


To prepare the leafy greens, try this recipe for collard greens sweetened with dried cranberries or golden raisins, and toasted pine nuts, all of it sautéed in olive oil and garlic.

About the Leafy Greens: Growing and Cooking Collards

Cooking with collards has been a new adventure for me. After seeing how beautifully they grow in the production gardens of The Nashville Food Project (where I frequently volunteer) and after cooking and serving them for years as a side dish for TNFP’s Meal Distribution Partners, I figured it was time to jump in and grow them myself. I’m so glad I did! They are like the Giving Tree of vegetables. Even as I write, on this cold winter morning, my crop of collards, unprotected from the winter elements, continues to happily produce greens. I’ve been picking from this same raised bed of collards since early October.


Collards are a great crop for the first time gardener to grow, too; they are very forgiving. For eight months of the year, you will be rewarded with a continuous production of hearty greens that are great added to soups, or when used in a sautéed medley with other leafy greens.

Technique Tips

Chiffonading Leafy Greens:
Chiffonade is a cooking technique used to describe a way of cutting leafy greens into thin, pretty ribbons. The technique is mostly used to cut herbs like basil. I’ve adopted it for cutting all leafy greens for sautéing. To chiffonade, stack about five leaves, roll them together, and then cut through the stack. I use scissors for small, tender leaves, like basil and Swiss chard, and a knife for bulky leaves like kale and collards.

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Toasted Pine Nuts
Add a single layer of pine nuts to a pan. Set heat to medium. Stir nuts about every 15 seconds. Cook for about two to three minutes, or until the nuts become fragrant and are lightly browned. When done, immediately remove nuts from pan to stop the cooking process. You can toast sesame seeds in the same way.

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1½ pounds collard greens or Swiss chard (once trimmed will equal about 1 pound)
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
⅓ cup olive oil
⅓ cup dried sweetened cranberries or golden raisins
6 cloves garlic (equals about 2 tablespoons, chopped)
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup hot water
salt to taste

Mise en Place:


Wash and dry collard greens. I let them air dry on dishtowels, patting the puddles of water that collect on top with another dish towel.

Remove the tough central rib from the leaves. To do this, fold the leaves in half and remove the rib with a scissor. Some people just tear the rib out.


Chiffonade the greens.


To cook the greens: Heat oil and garlic in a large six-quart sauté pan. Sauté for about one minute. Be careful not to brown the garlic as that could make it taste bitter. Add pine nuts, cranberries, and red pepper flakes. Stir.


Add half the collards. Once they start to soften and shrink, add the rest. Add water and sauté for about 5-8 minutes until the collards are tender and the cranberries become plump.


Add salt to taste: if the collards taste bland add more salt until the flavors pop.


This is a side dish that is slightly bitter. We had it last night with lamb and parsley potatoes, and it was a delicious combination.


When you go to set the table, consider looking in your yard for greenery for a centerpiece. My friend, Mary, said she was so inspired by Lou Ann working her design magic using greenery from my yard (check out Winter Floral Arrangements Using Greenery from the Yard ) that she went out in her yard and used greenery to create this quickie, yet elegant centerpiece.



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


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

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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.