The traditional Southeastern US New Year’s Day meal of Black-Eyed Peas with Ham Hocks–like many other dishes around the world, a “good luck for the new year” food–ranks as one of our Great American Dishes, and inspires fanatical loyalty in its devotees. Hey, I love the dish, too, and I’ve only traveled as far south as Athens, Georgia on a weekend trip.
Naturally, I have to commit blasphemy. Vegan blasphemy.
Blasphemous Black-Eyed Peas, Vegan Version (6 servings)
- 1 lb. dried Black-Eyed Peas
- Lots of water
- 2 dried Bay Leaves
- 2-4 sprigs of fresh Thyme
- 1 four-inch length of fresh Rosemary
- 10 Peppercorns
- 1 large Onion, 1/2 inch dice
- 2-6 cloves of Garlic, finely minced
- 2-3 Carrots, 1/2 inch dice
- 3-4 ribs of Celery, 1/2 inch dice
- 3 Parsnips, 1/2 inch dice
- Red Wine Vinegar to taste
- Salt to taste
- Hot Sauce to taste (more on this later)
- Spread out the black-eyed peas (actually a legume or bean) in a single layer on a baking sheet. Pick through them very carefully; I’ve found pebbles a half-inch long. Wash them thoroughly and put them in a large pot with a lid. Add water to cover by two inches.
- Wrap the bay leaves, thyme, rosemary and peppercorns in a sort of “teabag” made from cheesecloth and add to the pot.
- Cover tightly and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the onions. Cover loosely, leaving the pot partially uncovered.
- Stir occasionally. After 90 minutes, add the garlic, carrots, celery and parsnips, stirring.
- Simmer with the pot partially uncovered for another 30 minutes or until the black-eyed peas are very tender.
- Remove the “teabag” and discard. Drain everything and put into a bowl.
- Add the red wine vinegar and salt to taste and stir thoroughly.
- Serve in bowls with the hot sauce on the side so everyone can add as much as they want. Now, about that hot sauce: I realize that Tabasco™ is the obvious and popular choice, but that stuff has never tasted hot to me. I’ve read the ingredients and I know the sauce doesn’t include sugar, but I swear it tastes sweet. I recommend habañero or Sriracha sauces instead. If you have never tried them, they do pack a punch, so add carefully.
Options abound, of course. You can serve the dish over a bed of rice, toss in eight ounces of fresh peas five minutes before the end, maybe add two peeled potatoes (also 1/2 inch dice) with the other vegetables.
Vonn Scott Bair
PS–Why does a meat eater such as yours truly create vegan recipes?!