Black-Eyed Pea Salad

Please welcome Hank Shaw as he shares a favorite black-eyed pea salad. Perfect for hot summer days! ~Elise

I spent much of my life thinking that black-eyed peas were a Southern thing, and then I worked in an Ethiopian restaurant, where the African clientele told me that black-eyed peas actually come from Africa. Years later, I began cooking Greek food—imagine my surprise to find all sorts of dishes using black-eyed peas! I have no idea how they became so popular in Greece, but there you go.

This black-eyed pea salad a Greek-inspired side dish I’ve done in various forms over the years. I love black-eyed peas because they cook very fast and need no pre-soaking the way a lot of regular beans do.

My cooking method is a little unorthodox, but it’s a trick I picked up from the renowned French food scientist Herve This. This (pronounced TEE-S) says that all beans cook best beneath a boil: That means no simmering even, just steam. I cook all beans this way, but doing so means it can take hours and hours for some beans to soften. But black-eyed peas are often tender within 20 minutes. Why bother with this technique? Because it results in perfectly cooked beans that are tender but whole; you will get very few broken or dissolved beans this way.

If you are in a hurry, go ahead and use canned beans, but be sure to rinse them well.

I also use sun-dried tomatoes preserved in oil here, which is important – don’t use totally dried tomatoes, as you want them to be sliceable, and you will use the oil in the salad. Can you substitute fresh tomatoes? By all means, especially when they are in season.

I’ve played around with the green thing in this salad a lot, and have found that while spinach is a familiar green for people, almost anything works: Looseleaf lettuces, purslane, parsley, arugula, watercress, etc.

A final tip: Don’t add the lemon juice until you serve the salad: It helps keep the greens bright.

Black-Eyed Pea Salad Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8-10

You can substitute canned black-eyed peas for the dry peas. Use approximately two 15-ounce cans. Rinse thoroughly. Skip step 1 and step 3 in the method instructions.



  • 2 cups dry black-eyed peas
  • Salt
  • 1 package of feta cheese, about 7 ounces
  • 1 jar of sun-dried tomatoes in oil, about 8 ounces
  • 1 cup black olives, preferably Kalamata or oil-cured
  • 1 finely chopped green onion
  • 1 finely chopped garlic clove
  • 1 large bunch of spinach, about 1 pound, washed, chopped
  • Zest and juice of a lemon


1 Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add enough salt to make the water taste like the sea. Turn the heat down to low and add the black-eyed peas. Let them cook slowly, uncovered, until they are done, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how old the peas are. Don’t let the water simmer.

2 Add the spinach to a large bowl. Crumble the feta cheese into the bowl and add all the other ingredients except the lemon juice. Mix well.

3 When the black-eyed peas are done, pour them into a colander and spray them with cold water to stop the cooking. Pick through and discard any loose skins or mashed peas; you’ll find a few, but hopefully not many.

4 Add the black-eyed peas to the salad, mix well and serve. Squirt some lemon juice over each serving before you take them to the table.

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  1. Anna

    In Cyprus, we make a similar salad with boiled black-eyed peas and boiled chopped chard. The dressing includes chopped onion, fresh tomatoes, cucumber, olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Simple and tasteful.
    We don’t add salt in the boiling water as it makes the peas harder..

    Salt will help keep the peas firmer, but I am not a fan of beans or peas that have not absorbed any salt. You can, if you are concerned about firmness, add the salt in the last 10 minutes or so. ~Hank

  2. Renee

    Lol! Hank always likes cooking water to taste like it’s “from the sea.”

    Sounds like a good dish to take to a get-together – especially since I do live in the South. I love giving Southerners different twists on food!

    Ha! Guilty. I guess I am just an ocean kid at heart. ~Hank

  3. Alicia*

    That’s it! I’m making this tomorrow! Perfect for this unusual heatwave (and thank the food gods for canned black eye peas). Since sweetie-pie doesn’t like feta, I think I can get away with some Parmesan shreds and freshly picked basil.

  4. ATL Cook

    I cook beans and grains in a small Crock Pot; no soaking required. Either overnight or during the day works.

    Personally, I like frozen black eye peas much better than canned; bought some last week. It is to be 98 today in Atlanta; almost there. Ate the last of the quinoa salad so it is time to use those frozen black eye peas.

  5. Richard Coons

    Thank You. I have eaten some sort of bean twice a week for yrs, hot,cold,meat or meatless it all works. Appreciate the “new” method on bean cooking and will use it next and have a crock pot that is set to high and maintains a low boil it may be the new ronco cooker for “perfect” legumes every time! HERVE may want residuals though.
    “Taste like the sea” was great but from Kansas it will be a bit to far to walk.
    Poor memory has left me following recipes and I love a few things I read here. My last salad with these was black eyed peas and black beans it had a great look on the plate. Budget and limited travel will have me modify this by using fresh yellow pear tomatoes(mmm) and mustard greens,and the fresh cheese from the Mexican market. I also just took canned olives (I know) and rinsed them, but am soaking them in the garlic with the olive oil. Yummm! Thx Rick

  6. Georgia Pellegrini

    Sounds great! Would you suggest doing this with other beans too?

    No reason not to, Georgia. Black-eyed peas are a major part about what makes this Greek, though. Good alternatives that “keep it Greek” would be chickpeas or gigandes beans. Of course, I am pretty sure the Greek Police will not knock on your door if you use Great Northern or Pinto beans… ~Hank

  7. gardenpoet

    Tried to discern from the recipe and the comments if we are to add the oil from the bottle of sun-dried tomatoes? Perhaps as part of the dressing? Although sometimes that is quite a lot in an 8-oz jar…

    Yep, you add the oil from the jar. Greeks use a lot of olive oil in their dishes, and I like the flavor from the tomato-infused oil. That said, add only as much oil as you want. ~Hank

  8. Sadie

    I just made this salad ~ it was amazing. The beans took a about 1.5 hours to get soft using the technique described above. It is a perfect combination of flavors. Thank you for the recipe!

    Glad you liked it! That’s a long time for black-eyed peas to cook. You may have had very old peas, which can indeed take that long. Crazy how variable it can be… ~Hank

  9. Carol

    Hi..looked so good made it for a party for 40 that same night. Guests loved it! Thanks.

  10. Alicia*

    This recipe was so good despite my modification of parmesan bits it deserves a 2nd comment! It went well with garlic bread. Sweetie-pie LOVED it and we fought over leftovers. His comment, “Next time, can you use chickpeas?” (Though, I had to add a bit of salt as the parmesan is not as salty as the feta.)

  11. Allie

    I’ve been looking for a recipe calling for black eyed peas, and this sounds so delicious! It has all of my favorite ingredients! I can’t wait to make it — maybe even tomorrow!

  12. Emily Elizabeth

    Just made this for lunch using canned beans as part of my keep-the-kitchen-cool-for-Summer-2010 initiative. Delicious!

  13. Jackie

    This was delicious! The Black Eyed Peas were perfectly al dente. I added some fresh tomatoes along with the sun-dried. The only thing I may add next time is some chopped red onion.

  14. Matthew

    I made this tonight. It was really good. I’d been waiting for a good black-eyed peas recipe to come along. Very interesting mix of flavours and textures. Thanks.

  15. km

    great recipe! but just one thing I’m curious about: why does nobody in this country use a pressure cooker? it cooks things like these beans in 15 min, saves so much time and energy.

  16. Glenda Thomas

    Greek combined with black-eyed peas- (one of my favorites) This is genius! I love Greek food so this a great twist that will please my palate.
    How creative!

  17. Charlene

    Made this for supper tonight using canned peas. Very good! I had cucumbers and tomatoes from the garden on the side. Then I got the bright idea to mix them in the salad. Even better! And the crunch from the cucumbers was just what the texture needed. Can’t wait to have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Thanks for a great recipe, Hank!

  18. Corrie

    Had this for dinner tonight and really enjoyed it. So did my 16mo old! It took a lot longer for the beans to cook, but I might not have had the temp right. Eventually they softened up though. Very simple & easy.

  19. Linda

    Made this for a family get together yesterday and everyone loved it! Took some to my vegan neighbor and she came over today to get a copy of the recipe!

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