Black-eyed peas have a creamy texture and an earthy essence that intensifies as they simmer. They’re widely available as dried beans but you can also find them fresh, frozen, or canned.
Soaking dried black-eyed peas overnight is optional but will decrease cooking time. It also assists in boosting iron and zinc uptake from the beans because soaking helps reduce phytic acid, a naturally present substance in beans that binds to certain minerals, making them more difficult for the body to absorb.
These beans pair well with bold flavors. “Black-eyed peas are typically stewed in a pot with some type of pickled, salted, or smoked meat, garlic, onions, thyme, and red pepper,” Miller says. Using small amounts of meat for seasoning keeps with tradition and delivers that authentic, signature smoky flavor you expect from a pot of beans. For a vegan dish with a similar flavor, swap the meat for a rich vegetable stock and add a pinch of smoked salt. You can also switch it up altogether by adding stewed tomatoes for that umami flavor. Or try Hoppin’ John, a savory one-pot black-eyed peas and rice dish traditionally served on New Year’s Day.
While you could stop at these traditional southern preparations, recipes for black-eyed peas are only limited by your creativity and taste buds. Kasago suggests trying black-eyed peas in Red-Red, a rich, flavorful Ghanian stew of tomatoes and palm oil often served with a side of plantains, or add them to a pot of rice with a little coconut milk for a delicious pea and rice dish.
You can try marinating black-eyed peas in an olive oil vinaigrette then tossing them with kale, tomatoes, peppers, and onion for a hearty and filling green salad. They’re a good base to use in a veggie burger recipe, or, as the Culinary Institute of America suggests, you can use black-eyed peas to extend burgers or meatballs made from ground beef or lamb. For burgers, use 2 parts meat to 1 part cooked mashed beans. For meatballs made with a binder (eggs or bread), use 1 part meat to 1 part beans.