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  • Bettina Applewhite

Southern Style Spicy Black Eyed Peas

Updated: Jan 22, 2020

Black eyed peas are part tradition, part Southern lifestyle, and 100% deliciousness. Beans and legumes are a great source of fiber and protein and complex carbohydrates but are often overlooked as that yucky food your parents used to make you eat. Funny how we become our parents and start to love these foods now and try to convince our own kids that they are yummy! ... So the cycle continues.

I'm kind of traditional girl in that I really enjoy food traditional foods and symbolism. So if I can put those together, it's great. Black eyed peas are traditionally eaten on New Year's Day to bring good luck for the new year. Some will eat their black eye peas with rice, called "Hoppin' John" but I like my peas pure. Just as they are, peas. And I like my peas with a little bit of spice so I add in some jalapeno peppers. But you can leave them out for a less spicy flavor. But why would you do that? Go ahead make your year spicy with good luck.

My father (who I call Papa... I'm a Southern girl. What can I say?) grew up on a farm and my grandparents were farmers long into their golden years. So growing up I remember Papa bringing home brown grocery bags full of peas in their shells that I had to shuck out of the pods! My mother would cook some immediately and freeze storage bags full of peas. At the time I thought it was a cruel form of child labor but now I appreciate knowing where my food comes from and having unique experiences with my family.

When I cook my black eye peas I like to put some festive colors in the dish with bell peppers and onions and lots of seasonings to give the dish some soul. One of the ways to give your peas some soul is to flavor them with smoked meat. To do this make a broth of the smoked meat, by simmering the meat in water with some seasonings. For New Year's Day, pork also leads to lady luck so people will use smoked ham bone or ham hocks. You can use smoked turkey parts which I like since it's leaner than its pork counterpart or keep it #vegan by using vegetable broth instead. Whatever you choose, just make sure that the liquid you're cooking your peas in is seasoned well because all that flavor gets into your peas. That good flavor makes sure you keep eating until you get 365 peas for good luck for every day of the year.

Southern Style Spicy Black Eyed Peas


1 lb dried black eyed peas, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained

1 large yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 smoked turkey wing

2 bay leaves, whole

2 - 3 jalapenos, seeded and chopped

3 Tbsp Salt-Free Garlic & Herb Seasonings, divided

Salt & Pepper, to taste


1. In a large soup pot, add smoked turkey wing if using and cover with enough water until it is just covered. Add in 1 Tbsp of Salt-Free Garlic & Herb Seasonings. Simmer for 1 hour. If you are using vegetable broth, skip this step and add in 8 cups of vegetable broth and proceed to step 2.

2. Once you have made the broth, add in pre-soaked black eyed peas. Make sure that there is enough water to cover the peas by 1 inch. If there isn't enough water, add enough water to cover by 1 inch.

3. Add diced onion and bay leaves. Cover and simmer for 90 minutes.

4. Add in jalepenos, bell pepper, and 2 Tbsp of Salt-Free Garlic & Herb Seasoning. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Remove smoked turkey wing and shred meat into bite-sized pieces. (The meat should be falling from the bones). Discard any fatty pieces and bones. Put meat back into pot with beans.

6. Simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes.

7. Enjoy!


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