New Year’s traditions are fraught with superstition. Grappling with the end of an era and beginning anew can be daunting, so it’s no surprise there are countless beliefs associated with easing the transition. If only there was a way to ensure good fortune for the next twelve months, surely that would provide a bit of comfort. Everyone has their own unique approach especially when it comes to guaranteeing good luck, though at the end of the day, it often comes back to the dinner table.
Black-eyed peas are famously linked with good luck, particularly in the southern states, sometimes causing a run on the humble staple in times of scarcity (otherwise known as supply chain disruptions in our modern day.) Native to West Africa, the dish began life as an all-purpose celebratory food without specific meaning, eaten for any joyous occasion. The peas could be seen as a charm to ward off the Evil Eye, and because they were numerous, growing in size when they cooked, they could represent growing fortunes or families.
Enslaved West Africans brought these traditions with them to the south, melding cultures to find New Year’s Day the best time for such an auspicious food. Their popularity spread just like the prolific field pea itself, spilling over into all households; good food is a universal language, after all. Some add greens into the mix to symbolize paper money, and the addition of cornbread is like gilding the bowl with gold leaf, in addition to simply being delicious. This is often known as Hoppin’ John, though the origin of the name is highly debated.
Considering such a wealth of historic flavor, I didn’t want to mess this up. I’ve made black-eyed peas before, but I never fully understood the significance. For an impoverished people that could count beans as currency, the tenacity, strength, and optimism it would take to proceed into another 365 days in good spirits is unimaginable. I have a hard enough time feeling positive about the future on a good day, and I’m aware of just how incredibly fortunate I am already.
In keeping with the spirit of the dish, I’m hoping that it will help increase my wealth this year, because I’m entering it in the Big Mountain Foods Recipe Contest! You can find out more about this dynamic meatless brand on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Taking the place of a customary ham hock or turkey wing, Lion’s Mane Mushroom Crumble adds an extra layer of umami along with a considerable protein punch. Though unconventional, I think it’s natural for the dish to continue to evolve as further cultural fusion occurs. Even before crafty cooks had access to a global palate of flavors, no two bowls of black-eyed peas would ever taste the same. Everyone has their own take on the concept, and of course, everyone’s own rendition is indisputably the best.
I need all the luck I can get heading into 2022, so I doubled up on auspicious offerings by putting cornbread right into the bowl. Rather than a fluffy square of golden corn, baked separately, I made mine as buttery dumplings that simmer right in the broth. It’s quicker, easier, and adds a satisfying heft and delightful chew, almost like fluffy cornmeal gnocchi.
No matter how you celebrate the coming New Year, I hope it’s full of pennies, dollars, and gold, literally and figuratively.
- 1 Pound Dried Black-Eyed Peas
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Medium Yellow Onion, Diced
- 2 Stalks Celery, Diced
- 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 1 (10.58 Ounce) Package Big Mountain Lion's Mane Mushroom Crumble
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh or 1 1/2 Teaspoons Dried Thyme
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Smoked Paprika
- 1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
- 6 Cups Vegetable Stock
- 2 Dried Bay Leaves
- 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- 4 - 6 Ounces Swiss Chard, Collard Greens, or Lacinato Kale, Stemmed and Sliced into 1/2-Inch Wide Ribbons
- 2/3 Cup All-Purpose Flour
- 1/3 Cup Yellow Cornmeal
- 3/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
- 3 Tablespoons Vegan Butter or Coconut Oil, Chilled
- 2 Tablespoons Thinly Sliced Chives or Scallions
- 1/4 Cup Plain, Unsweetened Non-Dairy Milk
- Place the black-eyed peas in a large stock pot add water to cover by about 2 inches. Cover, set over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let soak for 1 hour. Alternately, you can soak the beans overnight in cold water.
- Thoroughly drain the black-eyed peas and set aside.
- Return the empty pot to the stove over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once shimmering, add the onion and celery. Cook, stirring periodically, for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened and are beginning to brown.
- Add the garlic and saute for another minute before introducing the mushroom crumble. Use your spatula to break it apart and cook until lightly browned and highly aromatic; about 4 - 6 minutes longer. Season with thyme, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Quickly deglaze with the vegetable stock, making sure you scrape up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan so nothing burns.
- Carefully transfer the soaked black-eyed peas back into the pot along with the bay leaves. Keep at a gentle simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, prepare the dumplings by combining the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the vegan butter and use a pastry cutter or a fork to cut the butter in. The texture should be a coarse but even meal-like consistency with no pieces larger than peas. Toss in the chives or scallions to coat in the flour, and then pour in the milk. Stir just enough to bring the dough together. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
- The beans should be mostly tender at this point, but still slightly al dente. Stir in the vinegar and greens. Pull out your cornmeal dough and pinch off 1-inch round balls. Place them in the stew, spaced evenly so they don't touch.
- Cover the pot and cook for 10 - 15 minutes longer, until the greens have wilted, the dumplings are fluffy, and the beans are cooked through. Remove the bay leaves and serve hot.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 414Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 1105mgCarbohydrates: 58gFiber: 10gSugar: 9gProtein: 19g
All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.