Jan 01, 2014

Black-eyed Peas and Smoky Collard Greens + Happy New Year!

Want a down home, cozy meal to warm your soul? This Southern, New Year’s tradition will be sure to lift your spirits while providing a heapin’ helpin’ of nutrients, not just at the New Year but all throughout the coming months.

The practice of eating black-eyed peas for luck is generally believed to date back to the Civil War. It was first planted as food for livestock. But the fields of black-eyed peas were ignored as Sherman’s troops destroyed or stole other crops, giving the humble, black-eyed pea an important role as a major food source for surviving Confederates.

Today, the tradition of eating black-eyed peas for the New Year has evolved into a number of variations and folklore of the luck and prosperity theme including:

  • Served with greens, the peas represent coins and the greens represent paper money.
  • Cornbread, often served with black-eyed peas and greens, represents gold.
  • For the best chance of luck every day in the year ahead, one must eat at least 365 black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day.
  • Black-eyed peas eaten with stewed tomatoes represent wealth and health.
  • In some areas, actual values are assigned with the black-eyed peas representing pennies or up to a dollar each and the greens representing anywhere from one to a thousand dollars.
  • Adding a shiny penny or dime to the pot just before serving is another tradition practiced by some. When served, the person whose bowl contains the penny or dime receives the best luck for the New Year, unless of course, the recipient swallows the coin, which would be a rather unlucky way to start off the year.
Whether you believe in these fanciful traditions and notions or not, this is a wonderfully wholesome meal that the whole family will enjoy.


~ for the beans

  • 1 pound black-eyed peas
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 4-6″ strip kombu sea vegetable*
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 TBS coarse mustard

~ for the greens

  • 2 pounds collard greens
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 TBS Spike salt-free seasoning
  • 1 TBS vegebase
  • 2 tsp tamari or other low sodium soy sauce (optional)
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke

* I always add kombu to my beans when cooking. The amino acids in kombu help soften beans and make them more digestible. And the kombu also adds some naturally occurring iodine which is an important nutrient often missing in vegan diets.


  1. To cook the beans, simply rinse them and place in a large pot with 6 cups of water and the kombu and simmer until soft (about one hour). Add more water if needed as the beans cook. When the beans are tender, add the spices and stir to combine.
  2. For the greens, if you’re using bagged, pre-cut greens, make sure to sift through the leaves and discard any yellow ones as well as some of the thick stalks that will be lurking in amongst the leaves.
  3. In a large pot, water saute the onion and garlic until the onion is soft.
  4. Add the Spike, veggie base, liquid smoke and tamari if using, as well as more water if needed to prevent sticking.
  5. Rinse the collards and add them to the pot. The greens will cook down a lot, so it may seem like they won’t all fit. Just add as much as you can until they wilt a bit, then keep adding more. You shouldn’t need to add any water since the water that is still on the leaves from rinsing will help them steam. Once all of the greens are in the pot, cover and simmer until tender, stirring occasionally. You don’t have to cook them all day long, as some Southern grandmothers will say! Mine only took about 20 minutes. Still nice and green while being soft and easy to chew. 
  6. Enjoy with some homemade cornbread for a true Southern treat.

Serves 4-6. Enjoy!

Healthy trails and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

6 responses to “Black-eyed Peas and Smoky Collard Greens + Happy New Year!”

  1. Mary says:

    Even thought this is a southern recipe, it sure looks comforting to me who's living in presently very cold northern Canada. I'll be sure to try it!
    Happy New Year!

  2. Jen says:

    I made your black-eyed peas tonight and they were really good. I never liked black-eyed peas before but I've also, never had them cooked from scratch until now. Thanks for the recipe.

  3. Rachel says:

    I made this tonight, making a few changes based on what I had on hand (frozen black eyed peas, my own spices) and it turned out great! I served it with my gluten free Sante Fe style cornbread recipe (and steak for hubby and the kids). Everyone loved it, even my kids ate some of the collard greens, and my husband and I happily went back for seconds. I'm happy to say there's just enough leftover for my lunch tomorrow. Great recipe! I'm happy I came across your blog the other day – I made sure to share it on FB & Pinterest.

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