a lil’ southern luck

The New Year is here! I’m not sure what it has in store, but I’m hoping for a prosperous one full of happiness. I plan to kick-off mine with a Southern tradition, rumored to bring a little extra luck and you can never be too careful… Today, kitchens across the South have simmering pots of black-eyed peas and collard greens, in the hopes these down-home dishes will bring luck & monetary gain. The menu wouldn’t be complete unless they were served-up alongside some ham & cornbread. And many get their Hoppin’ John’s-On with a mix of black-eyed peas, rice and bacon or ham.

Not only are these superstitious sides delicious, they’re actually jam-packed with health boosting nutrients. Since the New Year usually brings with it new resolutions for health, we have an edible win-win!

Here’s what greens and peas can do for you this year… 

Black-eyed Peas – Fiber, Potassium, protein and iron, and lots of it. 1/2 cup of dried then cooked black-eyed peas offer-up 5.6 grams of fiber, 239 mg of potassium that is crucial for cardiovascular health, 6.7 grams protein and 2.2 mg of iron. Take that Popeye! All of this, and these peas will keep you petite because 1/2 cup is under 100 calories, with less than one gram of fat.

Collard Greens – This super green outshines almost all in its class, like Brussels sprouts, spinach, cabbage, mustard greens, and broccoli, providing:

  • Detox support with abundant antioxidants & glucosinolates which activate detoxification enzymes.
  • Antioxidant support/Cancer preventative that is rich in Vit C, beta carotene, manganese and Vit K. The greens also contain potent phytonutrients such as caffeic acid, ferulic acid, quercetin, and kaempferol.
  • Anti-Inflammatroty support with high amounts of Vit K, and interestingly Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA) that is similarly found in ground flax, and is a healthy omega-3 fatty acid that works to reduce inflammation associated with chronic disease, particularly for cardiovascular health. OVerall, aiding in cholesterol reduction.
  • Vitamins galore, and I could go on for ages about this leafy member of the cruciferous family, but 1.5 cups of cooked collards gives you over 1045% daily value (DV) Vitamin K, 308% Vitamin A, 57% Vitamin C, 44% folate, 41% Manganese, and 27% Calcium. That puts fortified breakfast cereal to shame!

Being from the South, I grew up with my Mom making black-eyed peas quite regularly and have always loved them, but for those unfamilair, they’re a two-toned member of the legume family, somewhat resembling lentils in texture & taste. Usually prepared by boiling or simmering in water with peice of salt pork ’till softened, they’re warmed and served plain, with butter, in dips, or sometimes chilled in cold salads. Collard greens are usually boiled then simmered in water with salt pork or bacon ’till wilted. Many dine on these greens topped with hot pepper juice with vinegar, or even a small amount of sugar that helps reduce any bitterness. I like mine with butter & salt!

Here’s how you can make a ‘pot likker’ like sweet Grandma Mimi used to – a very special recipe, from one very special lady…

Mimi's Black-Eyed Peas & Collard Greens
Welcome the New Year & some prosperity with a warm and delicious Southern plate of Black-Eyed Peas & Collard Greens! This traditional duo of sides promises to be likable & a little lucky!
Serves: large pots of greens & peas!
What to get:
Southern Black-Eyed Peas:
  • 1 bag (16 oz) dried black-eyed peas
  • ~4 cups water (enough to cover and fill medium pot)
  • salt (few pinches to season)
  • 2 slices salted pork or bacon
Southern Collard Greens:
  • 1 bag (16 oz) fresh collard greens (already triple washed and cut)
  • 2 slices salted pork or bacon
  • few pinches salt to season water
  • water to fill large pot and cover greens.
  • Butter for topping, to taste (greens and peas)
  • Hot pepper juice (from jar) as desired for greens.
What to do:
Black-Eyed Peas:
  1. Soak dried beans in cold water in a bowl overnight, cover.
  2. Drain soaking liquid & add beans to medium pot for stove.
  3. Cover beans with approximately 4 cups water (or enough to cover over top of beans).
  4. Add slices of salt pork or bacon, and salt to taste.
  5. Bring beans to a boil, then reduce pot to medium-low & simmer until tender (for at least 1 hr or on very low for several)
  6. Serve warm with butter and seasoning to taste, draining any liquid.
Collard Greens:
  1. If using packaged, pre-washed and trimmed greens you can put directly into pot with water.
  2. If using fresh, whole & unwashed greens, you will have to rinse in shallow sink full of water, several times to remove the grit & sand, draining and chopping into smaller, bite-size pieces.
  3. Add cleaned & trimmed greens to pot, cover with ample water, add salt & salted pork/bacon slices, and bring to a boil.
  4. Once at low boil, reduce and simmer, and cover leaving a crack to vent.
  5. Simmer on low for at least one hour or for several on very low.
  6. Greens will be wilted.
  7. Serve warm with salt & pepper to taste, butter and or hot pepper juice, which has vinegar.
Notes:
This is a Southern classic that is very easy, and can just simmer on the stove. The black eyed peas just need to be soaked overnight if they are dried and the greens are easy if pre-washed. If using non-packaged greens, make sure to wash 4-5 times in a sink of cold water, shaking greens and rinsing to remove all grit & sand. They will need to be trimmed and cut as well.
I like to top my peas with a little butter & salt. For my greens, I like a little splash of red wine vinegar and salt & pepper. Traditionally some people spice it up with the juice from jarred hot peppers that are packed, as well with vinegar.

No matter how you spend your New Years, a little luck goes a long way and as the saying goes… Peas for pennies, greens for dollars, and cornbread for gold.

Happy New Year to you & best wishes for the year ahead! 

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Thank you for visiting the dinnervine! In the words of Julia Child, "People who love to eat, are always the best people," and I couldn't agree more. I hope you enjoy these dishes as much as I did making them. Here's to creating new recipes and memories with friends & family, cheers! 

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