The tradition of eating black-eyed peas and cabbage to start off the new year is one that many of us—especially in the South—have upheld for as long as we can remember. We were told to eat cabbage for wealth and prosperity, and black-eyed peas for good luck, which we can all use after 2020.
Some historians believe the tradition dates back to the Civil War era. Poor families incorporated black-eyed peas into meager diets. Many considered themselves lucky to at least have something to eat. The green leaves on cabbages are thought to represent money and ensure prosperity. It’s more likely the vegetable was consumed in January because—back before the era of supermarkets and refrigeration—cabbage was one of the few sources of fresh produce available during the cold winter months.
Whatever the reasons, though, we always start our new year off with a mess of black-eyed peas and cabbage. As with so many of our favorite, traditional dishes, we have updated these recipes to make them a little fresher, healthier and more contemporary. So, cheers to good luck and good fortune to you all in a new year that couldn’t get here fast enough!
Oven roasted Cabbage
Traditional though it may be, we were never fans of cabbage when we were growing up. This is primarily because many home chefs of that generation boiled their cabbage. Let’s face it: No matter what else you do with cabbage to make it really yummy, it can take years to recover from a first experience with boiled cabbage. But done right, it can be a delicious, healthful and versatile vegetable. One of our latest favorite methods is to roast it, giving the cabbage a nutty flavor in the parts of the leaves that get nice and toasted. It is a great side dish that complements just about any kind of meat, and it takes just a few minutes to prepare. It is also a great source of fiber and vitamins for a healthy, well-balanced meal.
1 large head of cabbage
1⁄3 cup olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
½ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Heat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.
Wash and dry the cabbage. Remove any of the outer leaves that may look wilted and trim off the bottom stem.
Vertically slice the cabbage into 2-inch slices and place each onto the lined baking sheet.
Brush each slice with half the olive oil, and sprinkle each with a little salt and pepper. Carefully turn each slice over and brush the other side with the remaining oil, salt and pepper.
Place the prepared cabbage in the oven and roast for 15 to 17 minutes, or until it is tender but still firm and the edges are turning toasted and golden.
Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and serve.
Spicy Black-Eyed Peas
Black-eyed peas are a quintessentially Southern vegetable. They are a down-home side dish that we love serving year round. We like to spice the peas up with smoky tasso and chopped pickled jalapeño peppers. The pickled jalapeño gives the peas, which can be a bit bland, a great kick and tang, while the tasso adds a slight smoky flavor. We also like to simmer the peas in chicken broth in place of water to give them a bit more heartiness.
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup chopped onions
3 cloves minced garlic
¼ cup chopped pickled jalapeño
6 ounces chopped tasso
2 (12-ounce) bags frozen black-eyed peas
2½ to 3 cups chicken broth
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
In a 2- to 3-quart pot, heat the olive oil and add the onions, garlic, jalapeño and tasso. Saute 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the black-eyed peas and stir to combine.
Pour in the chicken broth, add the salt and pepper, and bring it all up to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Allow the black-eyed peas to simmer for an hour or until the peas are very tender.
Serve the black-eyed peas over steamed rice.
Grilled Thick-cut Bone-in Pork Chop
We love our gas grills and tend to use them several times a week all year. Grilling is an easy and healthy way to cook meat, and the ease of a gas grill makes it time efficient, as well. The marinade Tracey whisked up for these thick-cut bone-in pork chops is one of our family’s favorites. It is easy to throw together and works equally well on chicken.
4 (8-ounce) thick-cut bone-in pork chops
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves minced garlic
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon dried Herbes de Provence
1⁄3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Rinse the pork chops and pat them dry with a paper towel. Place the chops in a shallow baking dish.
In a small bowl, whisk the mustard, garlic, vinegar, herbs, oil, salt and pepper together. Pour it over the chops.
Turn the chops over to make sure the marinade covers both sides, and place them in the fridge until you are ready to grill them. Remove the chops from the fridge for 20 minutes to allow them to come up to room temperature before grilling them.
Heat the grill to 400 degrees. Grill the chops 8 to 10 minutes on one side. Flip the chops and continue grilling for another 4 to 5 minutes, or until the juices run clear and the internal temperature has reached 155 to 160 degrees.
Remove the chops from the grill, and place them on a platter. Cover the chops with foil and let them rest for 5 minutes before serving.
This article was originally published in the January 2021 issue of 225 Magazine.