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Black-Eyed Pea Salad

salad From "Sylvia's Family Soul Food Cookbook: From Hemingway, South Carolina, to Harlem"
(William Morrow and Company)

By Sylvia Woods and Family

Black-eyed peas have always been a part of our history and an important ingredient in soul food. In fact, when someone asks me what soul food is, I always name black-eyed peas first, along with collard greens, fried chicken and barbecue.

Black-eyed peas originated in Asia and made their way to the West Indies and throughout the South, where they flourished in the warm fields.

When I was growing up, we ate black-eyed peas mostly in the winter. We always bought them dried, since they didn't grow plentifully in our fields as field peas and cow peas did. But every now and then, we'd find some black-eyed peas growing up the cornstalks with the other beans (sometimes the seeds get mixed together). Then we'd eat them fresh. This recipe is meant for the dried kind of pea, although these days it's easier to buy them already cooked in cans or frozen. Get them any way you like, but definitely make this spicy salad next time you need something to serve at a picnic or for a buffet. There's nothing better.

- Sylvia's Family Soul Food Cookbook

Serves 4 to 5


  • 1 1/2 cups cooked or canned black-eyed peas
  • 3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

In a large bowl, combine the black-eyed peas, green pepper, celery and both onions.

In a small bowl, combine the oil, sugar, vinegar, garlic, salt, black pepper and hot sauce. Pour the dressing over the beans. Toss. Let stand overnight for the flavors to meld.

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William Morrow
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