Black-eyed pea salsa

Right now in kitchens throughout the South there is only one question on the minds of their owners. What to make for New Year’s Day.

New Year’s Day is huge in the South. It’s sort of the Southern version of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement when our Jewish brothers and sisters examine their accomplishments and failures of the past year and look ahead to the next.

Except we eat pork on New Year’s Day. We must eat pork. No, I’m not kidding. It’s a requirement. Otherwise we will not live high off the hog in the coming year. We must have greens which represent money in the coming year. And we must have black-eyed peas for luck.

This has always been the rub for me. I’m not a fan of black-eyed peas. To me they taste like a whole lot of nothing. But we are so universally committed to serving them that it’s necessary to buy them weeks in advance because there are none left in the stores close to New Year’s Day.

I’ve tried everything to disguise them over the years. I’ve made black-eye pea fritters, black-eyed pea hummus and black-eyed pea pie. That last one’s a lie. But that’s how much I dislike black-eyed peas. If I could disguise them in a pie I would.

Three years ago, I decided to try a salsa. I made it without much enthusiasm. But, shockingly, it tasted great. So much so that the boys have asked for it every year since.

So while I’ll go back and forth on what pork preparation to try (this year it’s Pork Milanese) and how to treat the greens (a collard salad with hazelnuts, pecorino and mustard vinaigrette), there will always be the black-eyed pea salsa.

It’s a far cry from the old-fashioned versions of luck, but lucky nonetheless. Happy New Year.

Black-eyed pea salsa

2 15.5-ounce cans black-eyed peas

2/3 cup red onion, diced

2/3 cup yellow onion, diced

¼ cup cilantro, minced

1 serrano chile, minced with seeds and veins removed

¾ dashes hot sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Drain and rinse the black-eyed peas. Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Let sit for about 30 minutes at room temperature for the flavors to meld.


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