A true Southern summer isn’t complete without a hearty bowl of Purple Hull Peas and a hunk of buttery Homemade Cornbread on the side. Whether you’ve got a bushel of pink-eyed pea plants growing in the garden or plan to grab a bag from the freezer aisle, we’ve got a recipe for that!
These Purple Hull Peas plump up to tender, creamy perfection after a long simmer in a savory, pork-infused broth. They’re easy, delicious, and seriously nutritious, but best of all, they’re downright comforting!
WHAT ARE PURPLE HULL PEAS?
Purple Hull Peas are in the cowpea family, an annual legume that is well-suited to sandy soil and little rain. When mature, the pod varies in color from a light purple to a deep burgundy.
This crop was domesticated in Africa and were introduced into the Southern region of the United States during the slave trade sometime between the 17th and 19th centuries. Over time, the Purple Hull Pea has become a staple in Southern cuisine, often used in soups, stews, and savory side dishes.
Purple Hull Peas are a rich source of protein, vitamins, folic acid, and minerals, and have a very low-fat content, making them a very healthy choice!
ARE THEY THE SAME AS BLACK-EYED PEAS?
Purple Hull Peas and Black Eyed Peas are both in the cowpea family, but they are not identical crops. When the pods are opened up and the seeds are revealed, the eyes are different colors. In fact, Purple Hull Peas are also referred to as Pink Eyed Peas, due to the fact that the seeds within the pod are cream-colored with a purplish-pink “eye.” In Black Eyed Peas, the eye is a dark brown/blackish color.
ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS
Purple Hull Peas (Fresh or Frozen) | For this recipe you can use either fresh or frozen peas. You may be surprised to see frozen peas will cook faster! This is because frozen produce is briefly blanched before it’s frozen, so it’s actually partially cooked before it goes into the bag!
Pork | You can use either bacon or a ham hock for this recipe. Both will add a smoky, meaty vibe to the dish. If you’re in need of a vegetarian option, simply omit the pork.
Water | You’ll need just enough water to cover the Purple Hull Peas by one inch. If you find too much has evaporated toward the end of the cooking duration, add enough just to keep the peas covered.
If you wanted to add extra flavor to the dish, you could also use a low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth!
Butter | You’ll need a little butter in the pot to get those onions sweating. If you don’t have butter on hand, you could use canola or avocado oil in its place.
Onion, Garlic, and Bay Leaf | All of these aromatic ingredients will add a great deal of flavor to your pot of Purple Hull Peas, lending it an extra savory note!
Seasoning | The seasoning for this humble dish is about as simple as it can get! All you’ll need from the spice cabinet is Kosher salt and black pepper.
HOW TO COOK PURPLE HULL PEAS (FRESH OR FROZEN)
- Sweat the Onions – Add butter to a saucepan and melt it over medium-high heat. Then add the bacon and the onion and cook for about 3 minutes. You don’t want to get the bacon crispy, you just want to cook the mixture long enough for the onion to soften slightly. Then, add the garlic and cook about 1 minute more.
- Add It All To the Pot – Add the peas (fresh or frozen is fine), along with enough water to cover the peas by one inch, followed by the seasoning. If you are using a ham hock instead of bacon, you’ll want to add it to the pot now.
- Simmer – If using frozen Purple Hull Peas, allow them to simmer for about 1 hour. If you’re using fresh peas, simmer for 1 1/2 hour. Stir the pot occasionally during the cooking duration, then serve, and enjoy!
STORING COOKED PURPLE HULL PEAS
You can keep fresh Purple Hull Peas in the fridge for 3-5 days.
Once cooked, stewed Purple Hull Peas will keep, refrigerated, in an airtight container for up to 4 days. If you’d like to preserve them for any longer than that, freeze them!
HOW TO FREEZE THEM
Allow the cooked peas to come to room temperature. Then, add them to a freezer-safe, gallon-sized ziptop bag. You could also freeze the peas in a snug, freezer-safe, airtight container.
Lay them flat (if possible) and place them in the freezer. Eat within four months for the best results.
5 MORE SOUTHERN SIDES YOU’LL LOVE
- Fried Okra
- Butter Beans Recipe
- Southern Baked Beans
- Southern Collard Greens
- Homemade Southern Biscuits
- Stewed Greens Beans With Tomatoes
Purple Hull Peas plumped up to tender, creamy perfection after a long simmer in a savory, pork-infused broth.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 thick-cut slices bacon, diced or 1 smoked ham hock (if using a ham hock, wait to add it until step 2)
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups (about 1 pound) purple hull peas (fresh or frozen)
- 2-3 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 dried bay leaf
Add the butter to a large saucepan over medium-high heat. As soon as the butter has melted, add the bacon and the onion. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, just until the onion has softened slightly. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.
Add the peas and enough water to the pot to cover them by about 1 inch. Then, add the seasoning and bay leaf and stir to combine. If using the ham hock, add it to the pot now.
Allow the mixture to come to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover with the lid slightly ajar and simmer frozen peas for 1 hour. Simmer fresh peas for 1 1/2 hour. Stir occasionally throughout the cooking duration. Serve and enjoy!