Vegan cooking: Versatile black-eyed peas packed with protein, vitamins

The legumes can add nutritional value to curries, salads and quiches.

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Quick Hoppin' John. Contributed / Susan Alexander

Black-eyed peas, also known as pigeon peas or cowpeas, are not peas, but common legumes cultivated around the globe. Black-eyed peas were grown in Virginia as early as the 17th century. The planting of black-eyed peas was promoted by George Washington Carver because the plants add nitrogen to the soil and have a high nutritional value.

Black-eyed peas contain calcium, folate, protein, fiber and vitamin A, among other nutrients, and have less than 200 calories per cup.

Eating Hoppin’ John on the New Year is said to bring prosperity and good luck. Stock up on your black-eyed peas and get ready to prepare a feast to welcome 2022.

Quick Hoppin’ John

The dish Hoppin’ John originated in South Carolina. Variations of the dish appear in cookbooks dating back to the mid-1800s, although enslaved people in the south ate the mixture of black-eyed peas, rice and pork before then. Although it is traditional to cook Hoppin’ John with an animal product, the dish is delicious loaded with vegetables. Some vegan bacon crumbles would make a nice addition.



  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Dried thyme, salt, pepper to taste
  • 3 cans black-eyed peas, rinsed
  • 3 cups freshly cooked rice
  • Hot sauce, such as Red Hot

Saute green pepper, red pepper, onion, celery and garlic until soft. Stir in seasoning and saute for another 30 seconds. Add black-eyed peas and rice. Stir together and serve with hot sauce on the side.
Sometimes I roll my Hoppin’ John in blanched collard leaves.

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Quick Hoppin’ John in blanched collard leaves. Contributed / Susan Alexander

Black-eyed Pea Salad

Salad ingredients:

  • (1) 14-ounce can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • (1) 14-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small can corn, drained
  • 1 can mild chili peppers, drained
  • (1) 4-ounce jar chopped pimentos, drained
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic


  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup red vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Combine salad ingredients in a bowl. Place marinade ingredients in a small pot. Bring to a boil for a minute, then pour into the bowl with the salad ingredients. Let marinate for a few hours or overnight, then serve.

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Black-eyed Pea Salad. Contributed / Susan Alexander

Savory Sausages



  • 1 can black-eyed peas, mashed
  • ½ cup potato flour (not potato starch)
  • (1) 4-ounce can mushroom pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon crushed rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil or more for frying

Mix everything together except canola oil. Roll into 10 sausages or patties, fry in a skillet in a little canola oil, and serve hot.
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Black-eyed Pea Curry with Plantains

Plantains look like large bananas, but unlike bananas, they cannot be eaten raw. Although plantains can be eaten at any stage of ripeness, I find them most palatable, and sweetest, when the skin is black. Plantains are delicious fried, but much more healthful when steamed. (If you don’t have a steaming basket, the plantains can be boiled in an inch of water.) The texture is like that of a potato, but the flesh is sweeter.

This recipe is adapted from the “Post Punk Kitchen” cookbook:


  • 2 very ripe plantains
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, fine chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons mild curry powder
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 star anise
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • ½ cup water
  • 1½ cups black-eyed peas (1 can)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

Peel plantains, slice in half, and steam them for about 5 minutes. The plantains should look plump and bright yellow after being steamed. Set the plantains aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet. Saute onion and peppers until softened. Add the garlic and ginger and saute another minute. Add curry powder, cinnamon and thyme, and saute for another minute to wake up the spices. Add remaining ingredients and heat thoroughly for about five minutes.

Remove the anise and bay leaves. Slice the plantain and mix in. Serve on a bed of rice or other grain. This would also be good served in a bowl with slices of toasted naan to dip into the sauce.


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Black-eyed Pea Curry with Plantains. Contributed / Susan Alexander

Spicy Mandarin Black-eyed Peas

Here’s a weird combination of ingredients that makes a delicious bean dish. The mandarin oranges break down and create an entree with little flecks of orange throughout.


  • (2) 19-oz cans of black-eyed peas
  • (2) 10-oz cans mandarin oranges, drained
  • ¼ cup strawberry jam
  • 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt

Heat all the ingredients in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat for 10 minutes. Serve warm with rice or naan.

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Spicy Mandarin Black-eyed Peas. Contributed / Susan Alexander



  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • 1 bunch collard greens, leaves only, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or more according to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 boiled potatoes
  • 1 can black-eyed peas
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup soy or coconut milk
  • Canola oil for spraying

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Add the oil and onion to a pan and sauté over medium heat until the onion begins to caramelize (about 15-20 minutes). Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for a couple more minutes. Then add in the collard greens and cook until the greens are softened. Add in the spices and stir well.

Using a fork, roughly mash in the skinned boiled potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste, then let the mixture cool.

Place mixture in a food processor with the can of black-eyed peas. Pulse until everything is roughly chopped.

Add the breadcrumbs to a plate and soy milk to another plate. Roll spoonfuls of the mixture into balls. Dip balls in milk then bread crumbs till all the mixture is used up.

Place the croquette balls on an oiled sheet pan, flatten the balls slightly, and spray with a little canola oil. Place the sheet pan in the oven and bake the croquettes about 15 minutes per side until crisp and golden.

Croquettes. Contributed / Susan Alexander

Black-eyed Pea Quiche

If you want to make pie crust from scratch, go right ahead. The prepared pie crusts in the refrigerator section of your local grocery store work very well for this delicious quiche.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 12 large button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ pound vegan chorizo sausage
  • 1 poblano pepper, ribs and seeds removed, finely chopped
  • ½ cup heavy vegan cream
  • 6 ounces tofu
  • 12 ounces fresh spinach, washed, stems removed
  • 2 cans drained and rinsed black-eyed peas
  • 6 ounces vegan Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • Double pie crust

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until softened, 8-10 minutes.

Place remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the same skillet. Add the onion and cook until transparent and soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chorizo sausage, and cook until evenly browned and cooked through. Mix in the poblano pepper, and cook until soft, 2-4 minutes. Drain and cool slightly.

In a food processor, blend the vegan cream with tofu until creamy. Add the spinach, 1 1/2 cups of the black-eyed peas, Monterey Jack cheese and cayenne pepper. Process until well mixed, but still chunky. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Line a 10-inch pie plate with one pie crust. Spoon the sausage mixture into the pie shell. Layer with the mushrooms, then the spinach mixture, and the remaining black-eyed peas. Cover the filling with the remaining pastry. Fold and crimp the edges to seal top and bottom pastry.

Bake in a preheated oven until the top is golden brown, 45-60 minutes. Cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

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Black-eyed Pea Quiche. Contributed / Susan Alexander

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A slice of Black-eyed Pea Quiche. Contributed / Susan Alexander

Susan Alexander is food columnist for the Duluth News Tribune. She loves gardening, farmers markets and creating delicious meals consisting of whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits.

Susan Alexander
Susan Alexander

Related Topics: FOODRECIPES
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