Black Eyed Peas and Collard Greens for a Healthy and Prosperous New Year

The New Year is here. Full of promise and expectation!

Here in the South the saying goes that to ensure a year of luck and prosperity, one must eat black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Year’s Day.

Apparently, the greens stand for money and the peas stand for luck and prosperity. I don’t know much about this tradition, but I do know that it’s been around since the time of the Civil War in the U.S., and much longer than that in other cultures. I also know that it is still alive and well today because when I went to buy black-eyed peas at the grocery store, the only shelves that were completely empty were the ones with signs advertising canned black-eyed peas and dried black-eyed peas. Luckily, I was able to snatch some of the few that were left on a nearby shelf not advertising them.

So in good Southern tradition (and in an attempt not to tempt fate), Josh and I decided to make the traditional meal on New Year’s Day. I couldn’t find any steadfast rule about how the peas and greens ought to be cooked, and since I had just made a trip to my favorite Indian store to replenish my spices and on impulse had bought a new jar of curry paste that I was

curious to try, I decided to make a curry sauce and to serve it over quinoa.

It turned out wonderfully. Richness of coconut milk, balanced by the slight bitterness of greens, the sweetness of tomatoes, and the earthiness of black eyed peas. The curry was mild and red with only a slight kick, bringing the flavors together beautifully.

We sat by candlelight and ate our first dinner of the New Year. I had a feeling deep in my belly that 2011 was going to be a good one.

Black Eyed Peas and Collard Greens Curry over Quinoa

1 cup dry quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, pressed
1 inch fresh ginger, minced
1 can coconut milk
3-4 tablespoons mild curry paste
1 15oz can diced tomatoes
1 big bunch collard greens, chopped
1.5 cups cooked black eyed peas
salt to taste

Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Once cooked, let it sit in covered pan until the sauce is ready.

While the quinoa is cooking, sauté the onion and ginger in the olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until onion becomes translucent. Add the garlic and sauté one more minute. Add the coconut milk, and curry paste and bring to a light boil, stirring until the paste is completely dissolved. Salt to taste. Add the tomatoes and simmer for five minutes. Add the collard greens and black eyed peas and continue simmering for another 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve piping hot over a bed of quinoa.

Happy New Year!


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