Southern tradition in the United States dictates that the first thing you should eat just after midnight on New Year's Eve or on New Year's Day be black eyed peas for a luck and prosperity in the year ahead. Modern lore has evolved to include additional ingredients such as greens, tomatoes, and cornbread. The black eyed peas which swell as they are cooked represent prosperity. Superstitious Southerners eat 365 black eyed peas for each day of the year. The greens, traditionally collards, mustard, turnip, or cabbage, represent money, and the cornbread represents gold. The combination of the black eyed peas with stewed tomatoes is supposed to bring wealth and health.
Historically, the tradition of eating black eyed peas on the New Year dates back to the ancient Hebrews. American Southern tradition dates back to the time of the Civil War. Large fields of black eyed peas were oringinally planted to provide feed for livestock, and later on as a staple for the slaves. During the war, General William T. Sherman's troops destroyed or stole most of the crops, but ignored the fields planted with the beans as they were considered only fit only for animals. The nutrient rich legumes served as an excellent food source for the surviving Confederates.
The first time that I was given black eyed peas on the New Year was when I was about 15 years old. My family was hosting a party and a friend of ours came with a bag filled with goodies to share for the New Year. Just after the stroke of midnight, she served the beans to all of our guests in small cups with utensils to eat them with. Ever since, I have upheld this tradition. Black eyed peas are nourishing and tasty, and lets face it, any bit of luck can't hurt.
I hope that this satisfying salad incorporating the ingredients of Southern folklore will bring you luck and prosperity in the New Year. It is certainly healthy and should not be limited to enjoying at the onset of a New Year.
|Black Eyed Pea and Kale Salad with Stewed Tomatoes
|Serves 6-12 depending on the size of the portion.
|For all ingredients, please consider using those that are grown organically.
|1 bunch or 4 cups
|lacinato kale, center veins removed
|extra virgin olive oil
|fresh lemon juice (optional)
|1 large or 2 small
|1 1/2-2 cups
|cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
|2 cans or 3 cups
|black eyed peas, rinsed and drained (I like Eden Organic)
|red pepper, finely diced
|pine nuts, toasted (optional)
|extra virgin olive oil
|freshly squeezed orange juice
|white balsamic vinegar, champagne or white wine vinegar are fine
|freshly ground black pepper
|Mix all of the dressing ingredients together with a fork or small whisk.
|Preheat the oven to 400 F.
|Peel the onion or onions and cut them into sixths. Spread them on a parchment lined baking sheet, drizzle with about 2 teaspoons of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Toss with your hands. It is ok if they break apart. Put them in the preheated oven and roast for 45 minutes to an hour until they are caramelized and cooked thoroughly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Slice the roasted onions into 1/2 inch pieces and set aside.
|Once the onions are finished, put the tomato halves onto the same pan (why dirty more than one. It saves for clean up time) and roast for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
|If using canned beans, rinse and drain the excess liquid from the beans. If you are using black eyed peas that are canned without salt, chances are they might be in need of seasoning. You can season the peas with a bit of sea salt after you have drained and rinsed them and before adding them to the salad. Set aside.
|Once the center veins have been removed from the kale leaves, lay them flat on a cutting board and slice across the leaves into thin strips. Put them into a large mixing bowl.
|Drizzle the kale with equal parts of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice, about 1/2 teaspoon of each, and rub your hands through the greens until they are fully coated.
|Add the prepared onions, rinsed black eyed peas, diced red pepper, and raisins if you are using them to the greens.
|Add the dressing and toss to combine the ingredients.
|Add the tomatoes and pine nuts and gently toss together. Taste for seasoning.
|The salad will hold well for a few hours at room temperature. Serve plated or in small cups to pass at a party.