New Year's Eve is often full of reminiscing about the previous 12 months, and a celebration of new beginnings. Eating black eyed peas on New Year's Day is thought by some to bring luck and prosperity in the new year. Adding cooked greens, the color of money, is said to make the dish even luckier! While black eyed peas are often simmered with a ham bone and served with collards, this version has been modified to use wilted spinach and bacon.
Gather your Ingredients
Dried black eyed peas should be soaked overnight for best results (otherwise, it can take quite a bit longer for them to cook). Use a good quality, thick cut bacon. Either baby or regular spinach will work. Using stock will infuse some nice flavor into the beans, and homemade stock is ideal. Commercial stocks are often loaded with sodium, which could add an undesirable flavor to the finished dish. If using a store-bought stock, stick with low-sodium varieties.
Sweat the Onions and Garlic, Then Add the Beans and Bacon
In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottom saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and half the minced garlic and cook for approximately 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until translucent. Add the black eyed peas, 2 strips of the bacon, black pepper, bay leaves, and sprigs of thyme.
Add the Stock
Add the stock and turn the heat to high. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook under the beans are tender but not mushy, approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Cook the Bacon
Meanwhile, slice the remaining bacon. In a large flat-sided skillet or saucepan, cook over low heat to render out the fat, then turn the heat up to medium and cook the bacon until crisp. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat, turn the heat to low, then add the remaining minced garlic. Cook until fragrant, approximately 1 minute. Add the crushed red pepper, if using.
Wilt the Spinach
Add the spinach to the pan and cover, allowing the steam to wilt the spinach, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
Spinach cooks down quite dramatically, so this might need to be done in batches depending on the side of your pan.
Use tongs to remove the bacon and thyme sprigs from the black eyed peas. Drain away any excess liquid. Serve the black eyed peas over the spinach, topped with the cooked bacon.