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Greek-Style Black-Eyed Peas

A key part of African-American “soul food”, black-eyed peas and collard greens are a typical New Year’s Day dish that is considered good luck: black-eyed peas symbolizing coins and the greens symbolizing good ‘ole hard cash.

This dish, we recently tried and enjoyed a number of times on the island of Rhodes in Greece. In Greece, pomegranates symbolize prosperity rather than black-eyed peas, but as we discovered, they love these beans nonetheless. Not actually a pea, black-eyed peas are actually beans—and are found on Greek menus as “black-eyed beans”. I am yet to see “chick beans” on a menu—yes, chickpeas as also beans. All of which categorize under “legumes”—peas and beans.

Greek-Style Black-Eyed Peas

As a little appetizer, we started with a plate of black-eyed peas drenched with balsamic vinegar and olive oil—absolutely delicious. It’s light, lovely and has a perfectly harmonious bean flavor-pairing with the crunchy red pepper, green onion and fresh parsley. I added the red onions and a touch of garlic. Yum!

Black Eyed PeasI don’t recommend using canned beans for this; they are too soft. In this dish, black-eyed peas taste best al dente.

Preparing the black-eyed peas:
In a large pot, soak the black-eyed peas overnight in plenty of cold water to cover generously. You can easily cook more beans than you need and store them in the refrigerator for later use.

They will keep this way for about 5 days in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

GREEK-STYLE BLACK EYED PEAS
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 cups dried black-eyed peas, washed and picked over, soaked overnight (300 g)
1 bay leaf
salt to taste
1 small red onion, halved and sliced
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Kalamata olives (or olives of your choice), as garnish

METHOD:
1. Place the black-eyed peas in a pot with the bay leaf and cover with water by 5 cm. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, add salt to taste and simmer gently until peas are tender but not mushy (al dente), about 25-30 minutes. Drain through a colander and run some cold water over them. Cool to room temperature.

2. In large bowl, add the black-eyed peas, red onion, red bell pepper, garlic, green onion and parsley. Toss together with the vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

3. Let stand for 20 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Transfer to a serving platter and serve garnished with olives.

NOTE: This is a great make ahead side dish. Allowing it to stand for 20 minutes or longer allows the flavors to meld together.

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