A Southern tradition is to eat blackeye peas and cabbage on New Year’s day or after the clock rings in the new year at midnight. Blackeye peas mean luck and prosperity. Cabbage, reminding a person of green back dollars, means wealth. My very sweet, Cajun/Italian next door neighbor would share her boiled cabbage greens and blackeye peas if I said I wasn’t cooking any on News Years Day. She made sure we were taken care of.
Traditionally these two foods are boiled, but they can be prepared in other ways as well. There’s no excuse not to eat these things on New Years day. And if you’re really not a cook, putting a few dried blackeye peas in your pocket has the same effect, I’m told. Coleslaw is easily found in restaurants, those chicken fast-food chains and easily made from a mix from the supermarket.
Blackeye peas are really a legume-a bean. They are very nutritious, essentially fat-free and high in protein, B vitamins, and especially fiber. Current nutritional recommendations are to increase the amount of fiber in our diets. High fiber diets, which include dried beans, are associated with many health benefits including lower rates of some cancers and lower hypertension. That’s a good New Years resolution–to eat more fiber-rich foods.
This year I’m making a Blackeye Pea Salsa for New Years day. Blackeye peas are similar to black beans and can be substituted in many recipes. My salsa uses frozen blackeye peas. They cook much quicker than dried beans and peas, and are lower in salt than canned beans. However, any form-frozen, canned, or dried–can be used in the recipe.
Adding corn and tomatoes helps sooth out the earthy flavor of the blackeye peas. And just a little lime juice and cilantro gives the salsa a tart, fresh taste. This is a recipe that can be prepared ahead. Refrigerating it overnight helps the flavors blend, too.
My recipe calls for fresh tomatoes–I like the taste of fresh ones and don’t like to substitute canned ones for this recipe. It also uses cilantro from my garden! And I like Serrano peppers, which are milder than Jalapeno ones. Since there’s not any fresh corn available, frozen corn works just fine.
The recipe easy and simple to make. Just boil the frozen blackeye peas and corn, chop the other ingredients and add the salad dressing! The recipe, in printable form, is posted on mayleeskitchen.com
I really like cabbage and have lots of favorite ways prepare it. These include cabbage slaws, steamed cabbage, stuffed cabbage and au gratin baked cabbage. The list goes on and on.
Cabbage is a cool weather vegetable and is in season and plentiful now. Very inexpensive in grocery stores. Cabbage is also a healthy vegetable rich in Vitamin C. It is in the family of cruciferous vegetables and is very high in phyto-chemicals–flavonoid compounds–antioxidants which are associated with many health benefits.
A related cabbage, bok choy, grows well in Louisiana gardens. In fact, several plants self-seeded in my garden from spring and are growing well now. They are ready for picking. A favorite recipe is grilled bok choy and salmon with a sesame and soy dressing.
Tomorrow I’m going to make a cabbage and kale soup. We’ll see how that turns out.
If I eat all the cabbage I just purchased, I won’t need to win the lottery. Lot’s of green back dollars. So have a prosperous, lucky and wealthy New Year in 2014!