These flavorful Southern-style peas are cooked in the slow cooker and seasoned with fire-roasted or chili-seasoned tomatoes, chili powder, and bacon.
If you live in the South, you can probably find fresh peas in grocery stores and farmer's markets in the summer when in season. If you aren't lucky enough to have access to fresh black-eyed peas or purple hull peas (aka pink eye peas), use frozen or canned and drained black-eyed peas. Frozen purple hull peas can be found in the Southern supermarkets as well.
For vegetarian peas, omit the bacon and drippings. Cook the vegetables in 2 to 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil or butter and use water or unsalted vegetable broth as the liquid.
Reduce the amount of bacon to 4 strips and add 1/2 to 1 cup of diced ham or smoked sausage to the peas. Or replace the bacon with about 4 to 6 ounces of salt pork.
For some extra heat and flavor, feel free to add a minced jalapeno pepper to the peas along with the vegetables. Or add a 4-ounce can of mild chopped chili peppers.
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh black-eyed peas (or purple hull peas)
- 10 strips bacon
- 1 large onion
- 2 bell peppers (preferably red and green)
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups water (or unsalted vegetable broth or stock)
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes (use zesty chili-style or fire-roasted)
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
- Rinse the black-eyed peas and drain well.
- Put the rinsed fresh peas in a 4 to 6-quart slow cooker.
- Dice the bacon and set aside.
- Peel and chop the onion. Chop the bell peppers.
- Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon to the skillet and cook until softened and most of the fat has rendered. Add the onion, bell peppers, and celery; continue cooking until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently.
- Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.
- Transfer the bacon and vegetable mixture to the slow cooker along with the water.
- Cover and cook on low for 5 to 7 hours, or until peas are tender.
- Add the tomatoes, chili powder, salt, pepper, and oregano; continue cooking for 1 to 2 hours longer.
Black-Eyed Peas vs. Purple Hull Peas
Both black-eyed peas and purple hull peas are types of cowpeas. Purple hull peas have a greenish tint. The two kinds of peas are similar in almost every other way. That said, most people will tell you that purple hull peas taste much better. Both can be used interchangeably in recipes. If you have an abundance of fresh shelled black-eyed or purple hull peas, consider freezing them to enjoy throughout the year.