I was born and raised in Los Angeles, but both my parents hail from the south. A number of their food traditions have become my traditions even though they're not typical of an Angeleno's upbringing.
One tradition my mother was never able to get to stick with us was serving black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. I have a recollection of an old bag of dried peas hanging out in the cupboards until it was time to cook them down with a ham hock. This did not appeal to a couple of kids with picky tastes.
Eating black-eyed peas on New Year's is meant to bring luck in the coming year. There is some debate over the origination of the tradition as well as exactly how it must be carried out. I'm taking a risk and assuming simply eating them will suffice. So, this year, I'm bringing back the black-eyed pea - just not that sad old bag of dried beans.
Fresh black-eyed peas are a whole different game. I enjoy eating them right out of the container, but most will probably find them a bit chalky. A quick dip in boiling water will solve that. I'm using them in a fresh salad that aside from the very non-traditional addition of peas, looks an awful lot like tabbouleh. The fresh flavors and healthy ingredients are exactly what I'm usually craving on January 1st when I'm ready to put an end to holiday indulgence.
New Year's Day Black-Eyed Pea Tabbouleh
1 1/2 cups fresh black-eyed peas
2 small (ish) bunches of parsly (flat leaf please!)
1/2 small bunch of mint
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tblsp fresh lemon juice (from 1 to 2 lemons)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Bring a pot of water to a boil (do not salt the water) and blanch the black-eyed peas for six minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking.
Remove the leaves from the parsley, discarding the stems. Bunch all of the leaves together and chop them finely with a sharp knife. Remove the leaves from the mint sprigs, stack four or five together at a time and roll them up into a bundle as though you were rolling a cigar. Slice the "cigar" finely into a chiffonade. Place the mint and parsley into a bowl.
Peel the cucumber, cut it in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Dice the cucumber and add it to the bowl. Roughly chop the tomatoes and discard any excess liquid that is left on the cutting board. Add the tomatoes to the bowl along with the cooled black-eyed peas.
Pour the oil, lemon juice and salt in a jar with a tight fitting lid, secure the lid and shake until combined.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until combined. The longer it sits absorbing the dressing the better.