Mary Hoover, who ran a soul food restaurant in Greenwood for 30 years, says that she can tell the black-eyed peas for a cool salad recipe are fully cooked when "their eyes pop out." To serve them as a warm side dish at dinner, as in the recipe here, she boils them longer, "until the cooking water turns gray."
Make-Ahead Picnic Salads
1 pound dried black-eyed peas, picked over and rinsed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
How to Make It
In a large bowl, cover the black-eyed peas with room-temperature water and let soak for 20 minutes.
In a large saucepan, combine 2 quarts of water with the vegetable oil, salt and sugar and bring to a vigorous boil. Drain the black-eyed peas and add them to the saucepan. Simmer over moderate heat until the peas are tender but not mushy, 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the freshness of the beans (older beans need to cook longer). Add boiling water to the saucepan as it evaporates to keep the black-eyed peas covered. Drain the black-eyed peas in a colander, transfer them to a medium bowl and serve.
The black-eyed peas can be refrigerated in their cooking liquid for up to 4 days. Reheat gently over moderately low heat before draining and serving.
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