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Black-eyed peas

David Hammond

David Hammond

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Updated: March 7, 2014 1:23PM

In many cultures, it’s considered good luck to eat certain foods on New Year’s Eve or Day.

Eating long noodles on New Year’s is thought by some Asian cultures as a way to ensure longevity.

In Turkey, having pomegranates is considered lucky because the fruit’s many seeds represent fertility and a “new start.”

In Italy, lentils are eaten because they plump up when cooked — just as the lentil eater hopes to swell in personal wealth during the coming year.

In the South, the New Year’s food thought to bring good fortune is black-eyed peas because — well, it’s not exactly clear why this legume is lucky. Some speculate that when eaten with collard greens, the peas look like coins and the greens look like folding money. Perhaps.

What’s certain is that black-eyed peas pack significant nutritional values: high in fiber and iron, low in sodium, with zero fat or cholesterol. A half-cup of black-eyed peas equals about 20 grams of protein, a little less than a serving of lean beef.

The humble bean may seem rather unexciting for New Year’s Day, but chef Zoe Schor at Ada Street (1164 N. Ada) has a recipe (simplified, below) for Crispy Black-Eyed Peas that you’ll find delicious and, we hope, lucky. These lightly crunchy beans go well with holiday favorites such as sparkling white wine; our Martini & Rossi Prosecco paired well and made this simple snack special.

1. Soak 12 ounces cooked black-eyed peas in 1 cup buttermilk for one hour.

2. Drain buttermilk and dredge peas in a mixture of 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon cayenne and 2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning (beans are mild; they need spice).

3. Pan-fry in hot canola oil 2-3 minutes.

— David Hammond

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