Go South with Carla Hall's Black-Eyed Peas

Happy New Year! I know the ball has already dropped, the resolutions have probably been made, and the winter clothes have long since been aired out and in rotation. Nonetheless, it’s a new year, and we should celebrate with a new attitude and a fresh point of view. Right? But, before crossing that line, I’ve got to give homage to an old Southern tradition. Did anybody celebrate the New Year with black-eyed peas and collard greens? The former is for good luck and the latter is for great fortune. This tradition is almost just as popular in the South as turkey on Thanksgiving. How about a big bowl of black-eyed peas, rice, smoked pork and spices? Was anyone celebrating with this Southern favorite?

Regardless of how you brought in the first day of the New Year, it’s really how you live the next 12 months. One of my favorite lines from Rosalind Russell’s Auntie Mame is, “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.” I tend to follow that philosophy when it comes to food. Well, sort of. My inspiration usually starts from childhood memories, or classic American dishes, and it works out from there.

I bring that up, because I love the combination of black-eyed peas and collard greens too much to only have them once a year. Southern cuisine has a reputation for being fattening and the polar opposite of being healthy, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Black-eyed peas are high in protein, and an excellent source of vitamin A and folic acid. Collard greens are high in vitamins A, B and C and soluble fiber. When you put these two power foods together, you’ve got one heck of a nutritionally-packed dish. It’s really okay for healthy to share the plate with yummy.

Being mindful to keep the nutrients in my ingredients, I decided to combine the flavor profile of Southern cuisine with the cooking style of Asian cuisine. Make sure you have all of your ingredients ready before you start to stir fry:

Olive oil
Minced garlic
Chili flakes
Pinch of yellow mustard seeds
Cooked black-eyed peas (you may use drained and rinsed canned beans if you like)
Collard greens, cut into thin ribbons 3 inches long
Canned fire-roasted tomatoes (drained)
White wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

We all know that both collards and black-eyed peas taste great with the ham hocks and smoked bacon, but we’re clearly not going in that direction here. I used a smoked finishing salt instead to impart that smoky flavor. Smoked salt goes a long way, so be careful not to overdo it. This is a really quick dish to make in the middle of the week, so enjoy your good fortune of time.

Until next time ... cook with love.

Learn more about Carla Hall

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