If you celebrate the new year like most other Americans, you may look forward to enjoying a large pot of black-eyed peas on the first day of January. This Southern comfort food is believed to bring good luck and fortune in the new year to anyone who indulges in this classic dish. Though, interestingly, it wasn’t always Southern Americans who turned to black-eyed peas to bring luck in the new year.
In fact, it was Jewish custom around 500 A.D. to eat black-eyed peas in celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It is believed that perhaps this Jewish custom made its way to America in the early 1700s. Then, after the Civil War, it is believed that the custom reignited after the Union Army pillaged the Confederates’ food supplies, leaving behind only peas and pork, which were believed to be food for animals.
Legend has it that Southern soldiers consumed the peas and pork eagerly, believing they were lucky to have such sustenance during the cold winter months. Yet another story names black-eyed peas as a symbol of emancipation for previously enslaved African-Americans, who were officially freed on New Year's Day after the Civil War.
Though the official origins of this food tradition are a little murky, we know one thing for sure: this classic dish is a delicious way to start your new year – and, better yet, this recipe for New Year’s Day Black Eyed Peas is only 160 calories per serving! Check out the recipe below:
• 1 pound dry black-eyed peas
• 2 cups chopped cooked ham
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• 1 pinch garlic powder
• 2 onions, diced
• 1 (14.5 ounces) can whole tomatoes
1. Place black-eyed peas in an 8-quart pot. Add enough water to fill pot 3/4 full.
2. Stir in ham and diced onions, and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
3. Place tomatoes in a blender or food processor, and blend until the tomatoes are liquefied. Add tomatoes to the pot.
4. Bring all ingredients to boil. Cover the pot, and simmer on low heat for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the peas are tender.
5. Serve hot, with cornbread or another side item, if desired.
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