Black Eyed Pea Salad with Roasted Peppers and Pomegranate

Yesterday I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Big time. I was having one of these mopey post-MFA moments where I was feeling like despite all the hard work and careful planning, I've just been running on the hamster wheel, accomplishing nothing. This degree didn't land me my dream job, an ounce of clout, or even a good story to tell. But gotta keep going. Even though I would have liked to spend the entire day wallowing, I had a lunch invitation, so I attempted to hide the puffy eyes with mascara and tried to focus on being helpful and gracious.
It's hard to admit to myself that this year will most likely not be the year where I win an award, have a sold-out solo show, or strike oil in my backyard. So I'm trying to be realistic about what I hope to accomplish. I'm thinking it's better to make little goals and meet them than to make lofty ones and meet nothing. It would be nice if merits were always as clear cut as Brownie badges or resumé bullets (or if I could use my Brownie badges as resumé bullets)...but I'm learning to focus instead on the small actions that sometimes mean big things to other people. Today I made my students laugh so hard they were rolling on the floor (they made me laugh that hard, too) and perhaps that is an adequate starting point.

Black eyed peas in Hoppin' John are traditional new year's food for the American south, but I learned recently that they are also one of the Sephardic new year's foods (sans ham). The name for black eyed peas in Hebrew and Aramaic, rubiyah, is similar to the word "to increase," so we hope that in this year, our merits will increase. In addition, their small size makes them appear bountiful in the serving bowl so, along with grains, couscous and seeds, they represent abundance.

This salad is another symbolic triple-whammy with black eyed peas, bulgur wheat, and pomegranate--all three representing wishes for plentiful good deeds. So this salad is teeming with merits( and fiber and antioxidants). I based this salad off of a recipe from Bon Appetit, but I altered it to echo the flavors of the delicious pomegranate-walnut dip, muhammara. It should be served room temperature or cold.

Salad of Black Eyed Peas and Bulgur with Roasted Peppers and Pomegranate Dressing

  • 3 T pomegranate molasses (available at specialty and mid-east markets)
  • 2T olive oil
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • salt & pepper

  • 1 1/2 C chopped onion + oil for sautéing
  • 1 C bulgur
  • 1 C water or broth
  • 1 large red bell pepper, roasted and chopped
  • 1 C canned or cooked black eyed peas
  • 3-4 green onions, chopped
  • 3/4 C flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 C fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1-1 1/2 C chopped tomatoes
  • 3/4 C walnuts, toasted and chopped

For dressing:
Whisk together pomegranate molasses, lemon juice and garlic in a bowl. Whisk in oil and season with salt and pepper.

For salad:
Warm a little oil in a big skillet and cook the onion until it is translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add the bulgur, stir a minute. Then pour in the broth/water and simmer, covered, 5 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in the beans, pepper, and green onion. Cover it again and let stand about 5 more minutes. Transfer to a bowl, then stir in the herbs and dressing. You can do this about 2 hours ahead. Add the tomatoes and walnuts just before serving to keep it from getting soggy. Serve at room temperature.