The Black-Eyed Pea
Black-eyed peas are native to Asia, traveled to the West Indies, and were introduced to the American South, where they remain popular. Used primarily as feed for livestock and slaves, fields of black-eyed peas were ignored by Sherman’s army during the civil war, and thus became an important staple for the Confederate South. They are a key ingredient in the soul-food staple “Hoppin’ John, a dish containing black-eyed peas, pork and rice.
Also known as a cowpea, and mogette (French for “nun”), black-eyed peas, like peas themselves, are legumes (also known as pulses). What we think of peas (sweet peas, green peas) are legumes in the fresh state. When they are dried, their nutritional make-up changes. Dried beans contain more starch, protein, fiber, iron, potassium, selenium, folic acid, and B6. Fresh beans contain more vitamins C and A.
To cook dried black-eyed peas, cover them with cold water and let them sit for a 12-24 hour period. Test for moisture by cutting it in half. You’ll be able to see how far the water has soaked into the bean.
Once fully moistened, they are ready to be cooked. Cover with clean cold water and simmer for 1-2 hours, until tender.
If you forget to soak your beans you can try the quick-soak method. Cover the beans with water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and rest 1 hour.