Growing up in the South — with a superstitious Mom — we were required to eat black-eyed peas on every single New Year’s Day for our entire lives.  It didn’t matter if you were a grown-up with a job and 3 kids.  You still got the call on New Year’s Day:  “Did you eat your black-eyed peas?” So I did.  But until today, I had no clue why.  So I went digging.  If you really want to know, you can find out here what it is about black-eyed peas that is supposed to bring you good luck.

Mom’s version was a typical Southern preparation — black-eyed peas and ham hocks. Nothing fancy, nothing particularly interesting.  In fact, they were so bland that we doused ’em with Trappey’s vinegar hot sauce and ketchup.  I know, it sounds disgusting.  But we loved it.

So this year, when my honey was flipping through one of our gazillion cookbooks — Cook for Syria — he found an interesting recipe and thought it might be fun to try a new version of black-eyed peas.  And boy, were we glad we did!  (Just for the record, that’s not an affiliate link, so I don’t get paid for telling you this — AND part of the proceeds actually do go to support Syrian refugees.)

On New Year’s Day we made a slightly modified version of “Black-eyed Beans with Chard & Green Herb Smash” and I highly recommend that you go to the grocery store and get the ingredients.  Right NOW!.  This MINUTE! It’s that good.  We’ll just pretend like it’s still New Year’s Day, so you can still get the good luck part.

P.S. I was so interested in eating and cooking that I totally forgot to take a picture….  oops…

Black-Eyed Peas with Greens & Herb Topping
Prep time
Total time
Black-eyed peas and greens with a distinctly Middle-Eastern flair.
Cuisine: Syrian
Serves: 4 - 5 Servings
  • 1 Med Onion -- diced small (use 1 large Leek if you prefer, cleaned well and diced)
  • 1 Tbspn Coconut or Olive Oil
  • 3 Cloves Garlic - finely sliced
  • 1 - 2 Tbspn dried Aleppo Pepper -- or other chile pepper
  • 3 - 4 Cups pre-cooked Black-eyed Peas. (cook them yourself, use frozen, or canned)
  • ½ Cup Vegetable stock
  • ¼ tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ - 1 tsp Ground Cumin (to taste)
  • ¼ tsp Fresh grated Nutmeg - to taste (or substitute ground)
  • ½ of 1 Lemon -- washed well to remove any wax
  • 1 Large bunch of fresh Spinach, Chard, or Kale -- cleaned well and large diced (substitute a large bag of frozen greens)
  • For Herb Topping:
  • 1 Bunch fresh Cilantro
  • 2 Medium to hot small chiles -- diced small (adjust heat to taste)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • ⅓ C Walnut haves / pieces
  • 1 Tbspn Honey (substitute Maple Syrup)
  • 2 Tbspn Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Juice of ½ Lemon
  1. In a large saucepan, add oil and sauté onion or leek til transparent.
  2. Add garlic slices and sauté until garlic is transparent, but don´t let it brown.
  3. When garlic is nearly transparent, add dry spices and continue to sauté.
  4. Add black-eyed peas, stock, squeeze in the juice of ½ lemon and toss the lemon half into the pan.
  5. Continue cooking, and add a bit of water as needed to keep everything nice and moist.
  6. Toss in the greens and continue cooking until the greens and beans are done to your liking.
  7. Adjust moisture level with add'l stock or water, as needed. The dish should be juicy, but not soupy. Continue to cook over low heat until greens and peas are thoroughly cooked.
  8. Taste and adjust spices as needed. Check for salt and adjust.
  9. While greens and peas are cooking, prepare the Herb Topping.
  10. Herb Topping:
  11. Put all the ingredients in a mini-food-processor (or just dice very fine by hand) and process until coarse, but not a paste. Season with salt and pepper.
  12. IF you want to add more protein, add 1 egg per person. Make little spaces / sort of "bowls" in the greens and peas and crack and pour in 1 egg in each space. Cover and let the egg steam until it's done the way you like it. If you like your egg yolks soft, put the whites in first and let them cook for a little bit, and then add the yolk. Cover and finish cooking.
  13. Eat!
  14. Dish the thick stew into bowls and top with a few small spoonfuls of the Herb Topping (don't overdo it -- the flavors are powerful!). Eat with flatbread or homemade bread. Enjoy!