Traditionally eaten on New Year’s Day across the South, black-eyed peas and collard greens symbolize luck and money in the coming year. Since the legumes swell when cooked, they symbolize prosperity and the green of the collards represents money in the new year.
Black-eyed peas are native to West Africa, a region people were forcefully taken from for centuries and enslaved in the U.S. A style of cooking down the greens with salty ham hocks also stems from West African cooking traditions.
Here’s a vegan take on an old favorite, without the ham, but you can add it if you want to for extra flavor and richness. For added “momentum,” ham traditionally represents moving forward in the coming year.
For more history and delicious recipes, we recommend reading cookbook, Black Food: Stories, Art and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora by chef and food justice activist Bryant Terry. The cookbook is a collection of recipes from cooks, recipe developers, chefs and food enthusiasts with contributions from more than 100 Black cultural luminaires from around the globe.
It’s a homage to the Black experience, from Homeland to Migration, Spirituality to Black Future and in his words is “a communal shrine to the shared culinary histories of the African diaspora.”
Collards & Black-Eyed Peas
½ lb dried black-eyed peas, rinsed
1 large bunch collard greens, stemmed and chopped
2 Tbsp oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup tomato paste, dissolved in 1 ½ cups water
½ tsp salt
Option 1: Place all ingredients except pepper in Instant Pot and set on High Pressure for 13-14 minutes. Wait for 10 minutes before moving the pressure release valve to the venting position. Open lid and let cool. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
Option 2: In small saucepan, cook black-eyed peas with 3 cups water on stove for about 1 hour. Meanwhile, sauté greens, onion and garlic in oil. Drain beans and add to the greens. Add tomato paste dissolved in water and bring to simmer. Salt and pepper to taste.
Flavors will develop over a day or so, so this is a good recipe to make in advance.
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