A Southern black eyed peas recipe gets a spicy kick from cumin, coriander, and saffron. Spice up your New Year’s Day dinner with this tasty side dish.
January seems to have more hopes pinned on it than any other month. As the first month of a brand new year, it has come to signify a clean slate, starting over and new beginnings. Many people will go to great lengths to ensure that they have a successful new year; therefore, numerous traditions have sprung up over the centuries.
New Year’s Day Traditions
What do good-looking men, legumes, no housework and kissing all have in common? According to superstition, they all bring good luck in the new year.
For instance, the first person to step through your door on New Year’s Day should be a good-looking, dark-haired man. He has to knock and be let in, be carrying a piece of coal (so that your house will always be warm), a loaf of bread (to ensure that your household will always have food), money (obvious) and greenery (for long life). This individual brings extra luck if he comes on a horse.
Just about everyone has heard of New Year’s superstitions surrounding food. On our first New Year’s Day as a married couple, The Husband informed me that I had to prepare black eyed peas and hog jowls, or we would be doomed for the next 365 days.
Hog jowls? I think I looked at him as if a man on a horse with groceries and cash had just knocked on my front door. He may as well have asked me to personally pickle some pig’s feet. Turns out, eating pork is lucky because pigs eat moving forward, thus guaranteeing that you will also move forward in the next year. I managed to convince my husband that any part of a pig would do, not just the jowls.
The Significance of Black Eyed Peas
Black eyed peas bring riches and safety. I wonder if the more you eat, the more riches you will have? Even if that’s not the case, these warm, spicy Southern black eyed peas will be finding their way onto our New Years Day dinner table. I love the ethnic flavors the cumin, coriander, and saffron lends to a traditionally Southern staple.
What is Saffron?
Saffron is derived from the crocus flower. It’s the stigma, which is the female part of the flower where pollen germinates.
Saffron is considered to be the most expensive spice in the world. It only blooms for about 4-6 weeks every year. It’s very labor intensive to harvest the flowers and the yield is very low. Each crocus flower yields exactly three threads of saffron.
The flavor is distinct and slightly smoky, in my opinion. Saffron is deep orange in color and imparts its vibrant hue on whatever it’s cooked with.
One pound of saffron could set you back about $10,000! Don’t worry, you only need 1/2 teaspoon for this recipe. One gram of saffron, which is more than what you’ll need for this dish, sells on Amazon for $9. Saffron can also be found in the spice aisle of your grocery store.
Don’t let that leftover saffron go to waste. If you need another recipe idea, check out my post for Steamed Mussels in Tomato Saffron Broth.
How to Make Southern Black Eyed Peas with Saffron
Step one. I’m starting with frozen black-eyed peas for this dish so I can avoid having to soak them first. In a large saucepan, bring six cups of water or chicken broth to a boil. Add 1-1/2 cups of frozen black eyed peas.
Reduce the heat to medium low and boil until peas are tender, about 25-45 minutes. Drain the peas, but be sure to reserve ⅓ cup of the cooking liquid before you do. Set the peas aside.
Step two. In the same saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add 1/2 a diced yellow onion, one clove of minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of saffron threads, one teaspoon of cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of coriander, and one teaspoon of salt. Cook until onion is tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Step three. Add the reserved cooking liquid from the beans. Scrape up any browned bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Cook until liquid is almost absorbed, about two minutes.
Step four. Add the black eyed peas and stir until the mixture is combined and heated through.
Step five. Add 1/4 cup of fresh chopped parsley, two tablespoons of lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (thought you might want to omit this in case you have little ones eating this) and the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.
Step six. Season the peas with salt and pepper to taste.
Looking for more lucky New Year’s Day dishes? Check out my recipes for Black Eyed Pea Cakes (they taste just like crab cakes) or this warm and hearty Black Eyed Pea Soup. I also love this Bourbon Glazed Ham and don’t forget your Turnip Greens!
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Southern Black Eyed Peas with Saffron
- 1 ½ cups frozen black-eyed peas
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ medium Spanish onion diced
- 1 medium garlic clove minced
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper
- In a large saucepan, bring six cups of water or chicken broth to a boil. Add peas. Reduce heat to medium low and boil until peas are tender, about 25-45 minutes. Drain peas, reserving ⅓ cup of the cooking liquid. Set peas aside.
- In the same saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, saffron, cumin, coriander, and one teaspoon of salt. Cook until onion is tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add reserved cooking liquid, scraping up and browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until liquid is almost absorbed, about two minutes.
- Add the peas and stir until mixture is combined and heated through.
- Add parsley, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.
- Season with salt and pepper.