Saturday, December 31, 2011

Here's to a Very Lucky 2012!

Black-eyed peas are related to mung beans and have been cultivated since prehistoric times in both China and India. Because of their adaptability they migrated south and became a staple in many parts of Africa.  They were brought to the West Indies from West Africa by slaves in the late 1600’s and then to the US.  They were widely used as humble food by slaves but eventually made it into the homes of even aristocratic Southern households.  However, in Northern states they were raised solely as food for livestock. 
During the Civil War when Sherman’s troops made their way through the South, they typically stripped the countryside of all food stores, growing crops, and livestock.  Additionally, they destroyed whatever they could not carry away leaving only the humble “field peas” and dried field corn behind.
These items became the basis for the food that sustained the Confederate troops as well as the families devastated by the war.  The first New Year after the end of the Civil War, the winter crops of collards and onions, together with the humble black-eyed peas were the foods that were the stars of the dinner table.
Knowing that these humble yet protein rich legumes literally saved their lives they became the symbol of good luck in the South.  So from that time forward it is considered a “must have” on every New Year’s Day table in the South!
Since I moved to Texas in 1974 to go to college, I have celebrated every New Year since then with some black-eyed peas . . . because, let’s face it, who couldn’t use a little good luck?

And as luck would have it black-eyed peas are an excellent source of potassium, phosphorus and magnesium, and only 1/2 cup contains nearly 20 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber!
You can use either dried black-eyed peas which you can begin soaking overnight or the canned variety to save a little time.
I love this recipe for Texas Caviar and I’m sure you will too!  Feel free to adjust both the amount of chili peppers and lime juice to taste.

Texas Caviar
This tasty black-eyed pea relish is a very traditional New Year’s Day dish served for good luck in the coming year.  Served with tortilla chips it’s a terrific dip, pile over a bowl of baby spinach for a delicious salad, or with grilled chicken as a side dish.  It’s totally versatile and delicious any way you serve it.  
Yield – 6 cups

3 cups black-eyed peas, drained
1 cups red, orange and yellow bell peppers finely diced
1 roasted poblano pepper diced
1 jalapeno or Fresno pepper, finely diced, seeds and ribs removed
1 cup Glen Muir fire roasted, diced tomatoes, drained, 1/3 cup juice reserved
3/4 cup finely diced carrots
3/4 cup finely diced celery
3/4 cup green onions finely sliced
2 cloves garlic finely minced
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil

In a large bowl toss black-eyed peas, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, onions, celery, carrots and cilantro until well combined.

In a separate bowl whisk spices, tomato juice, lime juice, lime zest and oil until emulsified.

Pour dressing over veggies and marinate 1 hour up to overnight.  The longer you marinate the better it tastes!


  1. Absolutely loved this TX Caviar and I normally have strong negative feelings towards black eyed peas! I even had seconds! Strongly recommend this even for non black eyed pea fans. Hopefully this means I'll be having good luck in 2012!

  2. Making this dish even when its not New Years! Delish!