Every summer, the farmer’s market is full of fresh, local, Southern favorites – black-eyed peas, cream peas, purple hull peas, and fresh pinto beans. Sure, you can buy some of these varieties dried at the grocery any time of year, but getting them fresh is like no other. They cook more quickly, of course (no soaking needed!), but personally, I think their flavor and texture is divine.
Of course, I tend to overbuy (as I do with many things at the farmer’s market) and so often, I’ll freeze shelled peas. They keep perfectly that way, and I can cook them whenever I choose, and they taste as fresh as if they were just shelled. I’m working to empty any remaining fruits and veggies from last year’s harvest from our freezer, and spotted a bag of black-eyed peas. I was delighted, and so set off to making a pot.
Typically, black-eyed peas are simmered with a bit of onion, garlic, and a ham hock, salt pork, or bacon to give it some flavor. I’ve even shared a more traditional version before, once upon a time, on this blog. This time around, in addition to these staples (well, I actually used a couple frozen pork ribs I’d smoked a while back instead of a ham hock), I threw in some celery, fresh jalapeno, pureed tomato, and at the last few minutes, tossed in some chopped kale. Why kale? Well, the kale in my garden has just taken off in the past few weeks – it’s even flowering! We are in full “use all the kale!” mode.
The result was more than just a simple side dish – instead was a flavorful dish that was filling enough to be worthy of being a meal.
I served them alongside some fried chicken livers (yes, I adore chicken livers!) and fried quail for a Southern-style treat, but you could also serve them with barbecue, or even on top of a bed of steamed rice for an almost-meatless main. They were particularly good with a few dashes of Slap Ya Mama or Tabasco sauce. As much as I loved my chicken, these peas really stole the show at dinner that night, and I looked forward to eating leftovers for lunch the following day. I’m looking forward to making them again!
Black-Eyed Peas with Kale (gluten-free, dairy-free)
3 T olive oil or coconut oil (or butter, if you prefer)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 large jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb shelled black-eyed peas (fresh or frozen – can also substitute cream or purple hull peas)
4-5 c chicken stock
1 c pureed tomato (I pureed some canned whole tomatoes – you could also use diced tomatoes or tomato sauce)
1 ham hock, or a couple of smoked pork ribs
2 c chopped fresh kale
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, jalapeno, celery and garlic for 3-4 minutes or until it starts to color a bit. Add the peas, broth, tomato, and ham hock/pork ribs. Add a little salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover the pot. Allow to simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, checking once or twice during the process to see if additional liquid needs to be added. If so, add a little more stock. Also, towards the end of the cooking time, test a pea for tenderness. Once they are as soft as you like (black-eyed peas tend to maintain their shape well when cooked through), check again for seasoning and adjust as needed. Add in the kale and stir, and allow to simmer for about 5-10 minutes or until the kale has wilted.
Serve with hot sauce, if desired.