Ending our Healthy Holiday Recipes series is a fresh twist to a Southern favorite dish served for the New Year. It would be wrong to say, we don’t enjoy traditionally stewed black-eyed peas with ham, smoked turkey or vegetables. In addition, if fresh ingredients are used, the traditional recipe is still a healthy dish.

In this version, black-eye peas are used as a salad with pearl barley for a light side dish to support a main dish, such as glazed hams, roast turkeys, seared duck breasts or tofu. Enjoy with breakfast with Sauté Collard Greens and a cheese omelet. The taste is similar to a rice pilaf, for pearl barley is cooked the same way as brown rice. Both black-eye peas and pearl barley’s origins are in West Africa.

Eating black-eye peas on New Year’s Day is a symbol of prosperity and good luck for the rest of the year. When paired with collard greens—the symbol of money—it’s the gastronomic rule of black-eye peas to bring in the New Year’s.

Blackeye Pea and Pearl Barley Salad
*Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish


  • Good quality olive oil; as needed
  • 1-1/4 cups pearl barley
  • Crushed red pepper
  • 3-cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper; as needed
  • 1-14 oz. can of Blackeye Peas; rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 jalapeno or poblano pepper; diced
  • 3 to 5 roast piquillo, red or pappadew peppers; diced
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
  • 3 to 4 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • The juice of one lemon
  • Optional: Chopped feta cheese


  1. In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add pearl barley and one or two pinches of crushed red pepper. Stir until every grain is coated with oil. Add chicken or vegetable stock, bay leaf, sea salt and fresh black pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat until the liquid is simmering. Continue to cook with a cover for about 45 minutes or until all the liquid has disappeared. Discard bay leaf and fluff barley with a fork. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, add the rest of the ingredients with more olive oil (be generous). Add the pearl barley. Mix well. Adjust seasoning and add feta cheese, if desired. Best served at room temperature or slightly warm.



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