Black eyed peas should be the first food that you eat on New Year's Day for a lucky and prosperous year ahead! You can enjoy these protein-rich beans in these easy vegan hoppin' john recipes!
Black Eyed Peas
According to Southern folklore, black eyed peas should be the first food eaten on New Year’s Day for luck and prosperity in the year ahead. The practice is believed to date back to the Civil War. General Sherman’s troops stripped areas of the south of all stored food, crops and livestock, but they left the black eyed pea crops untouched. The beans were first planted to feed livestock, and the troops ignored the beans because they were considered animal food. They became a major food source for surviving Confederates.
Another suggested beginning to the tradition has to do with Sephardi Jews immigrating to the Southern U.S. in the the 1730s. The beans have always been a traditional New Year’s Day food for Jewish people who customarily eat them on Rosh Hashanah. The tradition was recorded in the Babylonian Talmud, compiled circa 500 CE, although it is possible that the custom may have resulted from an early mistranslation of the Aramaic word for fenugreek. It is believed that non-Jews in the South adopted the Jewish tradition around the time of the Civil War.
It is also believed that eating simple black eyed peas shows humility and a lack of vanity. The humble nature of the legume is demonstrated in the old expression, “Eat poor on New Year’s, and eat fat the rest of the year.” It is also said that because dried beans greatly expand in volume, they symbolize expanding wealth. Another explanation to the tradition is that dried beans loosely resemble coins. Today in the South black eyed peas are served with collard greens in the dish Hoppin' John, as collards are said to represent paper money. The dish is often accompanied by cornbread, which symbolizes gold.
5 Health Benefits of Black Eyed Peas
- They Can Improve Digestion – The high fiber content in these beans will keep you regular and make sure your digestive system is in good working order.
- They’re Iron-Rich – These little legumes are loaded with both iron and folate, which are needed red blood cells. Black eyed peas can help prevent anemia.
- They’re Loaded with Potassium – Potassium can help keep your blood pressure in check, and it’s necessary regulation the fluid balance in the body, protecting against loss of muscle mass, preserving bone mineral density, and controlling the electrical activity of muscles.
- They’re Rich in Vitamin A – Just one cup of black eyed beans have a quarter of your daily vitamin a requirement. Vitamin A can help form and maintain healthy skin and mucus membranes. It can also help improve vision, especially in low light.
- They’re full of Protein – ½ cup of these beans contain about 6 grams of protein, and we all know how important protein is!
How to Cook Black Eyed Peas
To prepare your dried beans, first place them in a colander and check them for pebbles. Then give them a good rinse. Place your beans in a bowl with enough water to cover them and let them soak for 4 to 8 hours. Soaking your beans will cut down on the cooking time as well as make them more digestible. After soaking, rain the soaking water and rinse the beans again. You can skip the soaking step, but know that your beans will take longer to cook.
Stovetop Cooking Method
Now you place your beans in a pot with water to cook them. If you're cooking 1 cup of dried beans, you'll need about 3 cups of water. One cup of dried beans will cook up to about 2 cups. Bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat, and then lower the heat to medium-low. Allow the beans to simmer uncovered. If any foam that may forms on the top of the water, you can skim it off with a large spoon.
Soaked beans will take about an hour to cook. If you didn't soak your beans, they'll take an hour and a half to two hours.
Slow Cooker Cooking Method
If you have a slow cooker, you can place your beans and water in it and cook them on low for 8 hours.
Instant Pot Cooking Method
You can also cook dried beans in your Instant Pot. Place your dried chickpeas and water in your Instant Pot. If the beans aren't soaked, you will need to cook them for 40 to 45 minutes. Soaked beans should cook for 12 to 15 minutes. Then use the natural release for 20 minutes.
My Favorite Black Eyed Peas Recipes Include:
This is my vegan take on the classic dish.
In this easy-to-make dish, black eyed peas and collard greens are baked together with spices and then topped with a cornbread crust.
I created a breakfast version of the classic recipe so I could have it first thing on New Year's Day!
These burgers are served with Tempeh Bacon and Spicy Aioli! They have all of the flavors of the classic dish in one tasty sandwich.
This recipe from Robin Robertson's cooker The Plant-Based Slower Cooker was inspired by Southern dishes dirty rice and hoppin' john.
Here's to a prosperous new year!