Pass The Peas

Despite what you may have heard, soul food is primarily a plant based cuisine, and one of its’ major stars is the pea. Immortalized in song by James Brown back-up band The JB’s and later Tony, Toni, Tone who paid homage on their 1990 release The Revival, peas hold a special place in Southern hearths and hearts. 

What my Mississippi forbearers commonly referred to as field, crowder, cow or black-eyed peas, are actually beans that grow and are ready to pick and eat during summer months – only eating black-eyed peas on New Years’ Eve is an urban legend. Perhaps, years ago when many Southerners farmed or gardened, the fact anyone had peas left over until January was thought to be fortuitous and therefore foretold a lucky year. 

Served year round, peas garnished with raw, chopped green onions, which are prebiotics, alongside a piece of cornbread, were frequent supper or dinner entrées when my mother was growing up. Even though my family traditionally seasoned peas with salt pork, peas alone are a protein powerhouse – 1 cup of cooked black-eyed peas contains 9 percent of the recommended daily allowance of protein for men and 11 percent for women; within that same cup is also a phenomenal 20 percent of the daily value of magnesium, calcium and iron, no fat and 11 grams of fiber. Our ancestors knew what they were doing when they when they gave peas the dietary center stage.   

This vegan version of the Carolina classic Hoppin’ John pairs black-eyed peas with quinoa instead of white rice, which increases the protein and fiber of the dish even more. I usually cook the quinoa separately which gives you the flexibility to use it during the week in salads or with other dishes.

Black-Eyed Peas 

4 Cups Fresh or Dried Black Eyed Peas

6 Tablespoons Garlic Cloves

1 ½ Cup Okra

¼ Cup Celery

4 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons Vegetarian Chicken Stock

2 Tablespoons Vegetarian Beef Stock

2 Large Bay Leaves

1 Tablespoons Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt

2 teaspoons Rubbed Sage

1 teaspoon Thyme

1 teaspoon Cumin

½ teaspoon Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning

½ teaspoon Real Salt

3 Dashes Colgin Natural Hickory Liquid Smoke 

1 Dash Cayenne Pepper (Optional)

If using dried black-eyed peas: This is the norm, so the peas must be soaked overnight. Place the peas in a colander and rinse thoroughly with cool water being careful to remove any hard debris or blemished peas. Place the peas in a large pot and add water to about an inch above the peas and let them soak in an uncovered pot, overnight. The next day the peas will have absorbed some of the water they soaked in. Add 2 Cups of water to the pot and place the pot on the stove, turning the burner to high. Mince the garlic and celery either with a paring knife or by using a food processor if preferred. Add to the pot. Add all remaining ingredients except the okra to the pot. Once the peas reach a rapid boil, turn the heat down to low. Wash the okra in the colander under cool water. Cut off the top stems and discard. Chop the remaining okra into ¼ inch pieces and add to the pot after the peas have been cooking 1 hour. Cook for 30 minutes to 1 additional hour. 

If using fresh black-eyed peas, meaning you got them from a farm, someone’s garden or in the refrigerated section of a grocery store, place the peas in a colander and rinse thoroughly with cool water being careful to remove any hard debris or blemished peas. Place the peas in a large pot and add water to about an inch and a half above the peas. Place the pot on the stove, turning the burner to high. Mince the garlic and celery either with a paring knife or by using a food processor if preferred. Add to the pot. Add all remaining ingredients except the okra to the pot. Once the peas reach a rapid boil, turn the heat down to low. Wash the okra in the colander under cool water. Cut off the top stems and discard. Chop the remaining okra into ¼ inch pieces and add to the pot after the peas have been cooking 1 hour. Cook for 30 minutes to 1 additional hour. 

Quinoa

4 Cups Water

2 Cups Quinoa

1 teaspoon Vegetarian Chicken Stock

1 teaspoon Real Salt

1 Tablespoon Walnut Oil

Place quinoa in a sauce pan on medium high heat to toast, allowing some of the grains to slightly brown. After approximately one minute, add the water and then the remaining ingredients and turn the heat down to low. Cook for approximately 20 minutes, stirring the last few minutes to ensure it doesn’t burn. Top with the black-eyed peas, fresh chopped green onions and enjoy!

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