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What Are Black-eyed Peas?

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I love black-eyed peas and not just on New Year’s. Though it’s probably the #1 side dish for New Year’s dinner, at least in the South for sure, we eat them all the time.

WHAT are black-eyed peas?

raw blackeyed peas

Black-eyed peas are a gift to the world courtesy of Africa. They are actually a legume very popular in Africa and the U.S. South after the crops were brought to America via the slave trade. It is the quintessential staple soul food mostly slow-cooked in a meaty broth but versatile enough to be cooked in a variety of ways in most ways you’d cook any bean.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN field peas, purple peas, etc.?

Black-eyed peas hail from cowpeas. Cowpeas represent the “mothership” and black-eyed peas, like field peas, purple hull peas, and crowder peas are some of the larger varieties that fall under the cowpeas umbrella. Both field and purple hull peas are most like black-eyed peas and thus substitutable in recipes. Crowder peas are darker and are a bit more rich in flavor.

But Are They Beans or Peas?

Despite the confusing name they are in fact legumes or beans. So in cooking many of the same rules apply, I.e. you will need to give them a good soaking and cook them at a slow simmer if making them in more traditional recipes.

What do they taste like?

Black-eyed peas have a deep earthy flavor to go along with your typical starchy bean taste.

Are they Healthy?

Indeed, like most soul food staples black-eyed peas are highly nutritious providing good amounts of both fiber and protein.

Where to find black-eyed peas

They are readily available in any grocery store. Canned and dried can be found all year round anywhere and usually in either the canned vegetable or dry food aisles. Fresh peas will be found seasonally refrigerated in the produce section or your nearby farmer’s market.

Do I Need To Soak Black-eyed Peas

boiling blackeyed peas in a pot

You should definitely soak your peas ahead of time in order to significantly cut down on the long cooking time.

Soaking is easy, just:

Rinse - the peas in cold water and make sure there are no hard pellets present

Boil - water in a pot then add beans for about 2 minutes.

Cool - the peas by removing from heat and allowing to rest for about an hour.

How to cook black-eyed peas

Depending on whether you’re using canned, dried, or fresh peas you have several options. Dried or fresh are used most frequently and in your typical soul food or southerner, way are prepared by cooking in a deep pot at a slow simmer with smoked meats (usually pork) and vegetable aromatics like onions, garlic, and maybe peppers.

Recipes Made With Black-eyed Peas

black eyed pea soup in white bow

For a variety of recipes featuring both traditional and new and different option try any of these:

If you make any of these black eyed peas recipes or any other from the site, please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.

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