I couldn’t stand black eyed peas growing up. My mother had inherited the taste for them through her Maryland ancestry, and served them up occasionally. I didn’t like them.
When I grew up and was served them in the Navy and later on merchant ships I still didn’t like them.
Yesterday a special purchase sale at Aldi prompted me to wonder if maybe I just didn’t like how they were cooked? I picked up a pound.
These I like. I’ll get some more. But next time, I’ll also make cornbread.
Black Eyed Peas are not actually a pea. They are a bean variant of Cowpeas (themselves not a pea), which are probably the oldest cultivated bean in the world. They were first cultivated in Africa, and then separately in Asia.
Brought to the Americas with enslaved peoples as both food and animal fodder (the whole plant works very well for this), they became a staple of African American cuisine. There is even a dish served at New Year for good luck. Though I won’t discuss those traditional recipes as they feature animal products.
All varieties of cowpeas are great as food for people and animals, but they are also great for the soil. They are very drought resistant and fix nitrogen in the soil, making them a great cover crop between plantings of other crops.
Soak a cup of black eyed peas overnight.
Rinse and drain.
Saute some onions and garlic in a slurry of water and mushroom powder over medium to high heat.
Add black eyed peas, along with some bay leaf, thyme, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and black pepper, and cover with water.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Check water level and cook for 15 more.
Then add a whole bunch of fresh spinach (I suspect frozen loose would work just as well) and stir in and cook five more minutes.