Cooking with Black-Eyed Peas from a Northern Greek Island

Mixed KalesWhen we return to Alaska from Greece, we carry home enough food to last until we next visit the island. We stuff our bags to the very edge of the airlines’ weight limit. As a result, our Alaska meals are enhanced by hand-gathered, hand-crafted, and hand-grown island products that remind us of far-away friends and family.

After years of doing this, I’m attuned to every detail of the customs’ laws and regulations. I’m careful to pack only those items that are legal to bring into the United States. We declare absolutely everything, and have never yet had a customs problem.

Each year, one of the items in our luggage is dried black-eyed peas grown by my husband’s cousin Zafiris on a Northern Aegean island. After the peas have dried on the vine, Zafiris places them on a threshing floor, and shells them by driving his tractor back and forth over the peas. He then winnows out the peas from their shells and other debris, and brings them home for his wife to finish cleaning and drying (the final drying is done in the oven).

One of my favorite ways to eat black-eyed peas is paired with wild greens, if they’re available, and supermarket greens when they’re not. Most recently, I made this with a bag of mixed kales that came in my Full Circle Farm CSA box.

In Greece, we eat black-eyed peas as a salad seasoned with fresh leaf fennel. In Alaska, I prefer it as a zesty cold-fighting soup. Either way, the dish tastes great.

Be sure to check out the recipes mentioned in this post:


7 Responses to Cooking with Black-Eyed Peas from a Northern Greek Island

  1. A hearty veg dish indeed. The Greeks are starting to use more fennel in their dishes and that’s a good thing!

  2. Gretchen Noelle says:

    This looks delicious. It has been quite some time since I made black eyed peas and then it was in a curry dish.

  3. I love black eyed peas with “seskoula” silver beat. Is this recipe Greek? I just wanted to say to Peter that Marathoryza (or finocchio as they call it nowadays) was well known to Greeks since ancient years and was highly appreciated for its pharmaceutical properties.

  4. Peter, at least on the island, fennel is a very commonly used herb and is grown in most kitchen gardens. It is the form of fennel grown for its leaves, and has a more distinct fennel flavor than fennel bulb. That’s why I added the seeds!

    Thanks, Gretchen! I’ve never heard of black-eyed peas with curry, but it sounds intriguing.

    Ivy, me too, I love seskoula in pretty much anything, it is one of my favorite kinds of horta. The original recipe is Greek, but I had to adapt it to the ingredients we have here in Alaska (like the fennel I was mentioning to Peter), plus it has some non-traditional elements like the Aleppo pepper. Also, in winter I like this as a soup, while what I’ve had in Greece is cooked in only a little water so it is more like a plate of beans than it is a soup.

  5. I love your photos, Laurie! Especially the one with the greens! 🙂

  6. Thanks so much Maninas! The greens picture is one of my favorites.

  7. fennel leaves have been used in crete since time immemorial – just think of marathopites, and the way they are made, and you will understand why fennel is considered an ‘old’ ingredient

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