New Year's Day

Cheesy, Creamy Black-Eyed Peas

December 28, 2018
8 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 6 to 8
Author Notes

This recipe is inspired by a traditional black-eyed pea dish called feijão verde from the Brazilian state of Ceará. I have substituted some of the more difficult-to-find Brazilian ingredients—like dried beef (carne de sol) and canned cream (creme de leite)—for ingredients that are more commonly available in American grocery stores. Other than that, the dish retains many of the same features that make it such a crowd pleaser in its native Ceará. It can be assembled several days in advance and baked when you are ready to serve. —Carlos C. Olaechea

What You'll Need
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 6 slices bacon, cut into roughly 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1 Cubanelle pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 (16-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 6 pieces
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Set a large saucepan over medium heat on the stove and add vegetable oil. Add bacon and cook until browned. Remove pan from the heat, and transfer bacon to a plate to a paper towel to drain. Set aside.
  3. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan. Place the pan back on the head and add onions. Fry until softened, about 2 minutes, scraping up brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add peppers and garlic and fry until both have softened and cooked through, about 3 minutes. You can add a teaspoon of water at a time to help prevent burning and loosen up the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the black-eyed peas and stir to combine.
  5. Add cream and cream cheese. Stir gently to combine and bring to a simmer. Continue stirring gently to break up and melt the cream cheese. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 15 minutes uncovered until the sauce thickens to a custard consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Remove pan from heat and stir in scallions, cilantro, and bacon. Gently stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese. Pour the mixture into a 9x9-inch casserole dish and sprinkle over with the remaining cheese.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes until browned and bubbling. Cool for about 10 minutes before serving with rice, crusty bread, or crackers.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • MP Carter
    MP Carter
  • Carlos C. Olaechea
    Carlos C. Olaechea
  • Jacob K Thomas
    Jacob K Thomas
  • Joanna Clayton
    Joanna Clayton
I was born in Peru to a Limeño father and a Texan mother. We moved to Miami when I was five, and I grew up in the "Kendall-suyo" neighborhood—often called the 5th province of the Inca Empire because of its large Peruvian population. I've been writing about food since I was 11 years old, and in 2016 I received a master's degree in Gastronomy from Boston University. A travel columnist at Food52, I'm currently based in Hollywood, Florida—another vibrant Peruvian community—where I am a writer, culinary tour guide, and consultant.

15 Reviews

Joanna C. February 28, 2023
Great recipe. Keeper for sure. Made it again this week for a group and it was well received. Served with tortillas this time (and fried plantains in the past.. both equally as good).
Had some leftover so I gave it to a friend who recently moved here from Brazil... Major approval, he was so happy with a taste of home. He had it over rice.
I used dry beans (no need to soak) that I cooked with bay, a chili pepper, onion and ham hock in chicken broth for extra flavor.
In making the recipe... Didn't worry so much about measurements, just made as suggested til creamy ratio like mac n cheese. I added Aleppo pepper, quite a bit and could have used even more. Lots of fresh cilantro. Delish!
violist January 2, 2020
I have an extra pound of dried black eyed peas from Rancho Gordo that I would like to use in this recipe. After soaking them would I use the entire pound, and should I add any of the soaking water?
gandalf January 2, 2020
Cooking the dried black-eyed peas should yield about 2.75 cups cooked black-eyed peas for every cup of dried black-eyed peas that you use. I don't know how many cups of black-eyed peas you will get out of the 3 16-oz. cans called for in the recipe, so you may need to adjust the proportions of ingredients in the recipe.

Typically when I cook beans (which is what black-eyed peas are, technically), I discard the soaking water and cook them in fresh water that is sufficient to cover them by 1-2 inches. Since the recipe calls for draining and rinsing the canned black-eyed peas, I would not add any of the cooking water when you are making the dish.
Carlos C. January 6, 2020
Hi violist. Sorry for the late reply. This really isn't an exact recipe. Cook your pound of black eyed peas and then just add enough ingredients until it looks appetizing and creamy. It should be like a creamy mac n cheese but with beans instead of pasta.

I ask for draining and rinsing the canned beans because canned beans tend to have an off-putting metallic taste and insipid liquid that is almost gel-like. However, if you are cooking good-quality dried beans (like rancho gordo) add some cooking liquid. Doing so will lighten the final dish if you don't want to add so much cream to it. My tip would be to season the black eyed peas well when you boil them - onion, garlic, and bayleaf at least.

As for discarding your soaking liquid, it depends on what you want for the final result. Using fresh water yields a "cleaner" finished product. I tend to discard the soaking liquid if I want to maintain the pale color of canellini, navy, or canary beans. With black beans, however, you want to cook them in their soaking liquid. This is how it's traditionally done in Cuba, Brazil, Haiti, Yucatan, and other places where they eat black beans.
Jennifer January 3, 2022
I just made this with my Rancho Gordo beans. I used the whole pound and it worked out perfectly. I cooked it in a big enameled cast-iron sauté pan. It would’ve been too much for a 9 x 9 casserole dish, but all the other proportion of ingredients worked out perfectly.
gandalf January 2, 2020
What kind of pepper is a Cubanelle pepper -- hot, spicy, or similar to a bell pepper? What would be an alternate pepper that one might find in a regular grocery store?

Thanks in advance for your response.
Jacob K. January 2, 2020
They are similar to a bell pepper, you can use a bell pepper if you are looking for something that isn't spicy, but has some flavor a certain texture.
gandalf January 2, 2020
Thank you!
Carlos C. January 6, 2020
Thanks, Jacob, for the reply. The flavor is ever so slightly different from a green bell pepper. Cubanelles are not spicy. I tend to remember that by associating them with Cuba, which doesn't have a spicy cuisine. Their flesh is thinner than green bell pepper, and they are smaller, so you're not stuck with leftover pepper. Another great alternative is cachucha or aji dulce, which is common in Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Cuban cuisines. It's not spicy but very flavorful. HOWEVER, they look a lot like habaneros, so be careful.
Annabelle January 2, 2019
Absolutely delicious, and didn't miss the bacon a bit. Even better the second day.
Carlos C. January 6, 2019
Oh yeah! The bacon is totally optional if you don't want it in there.
Jan January 2, 2019
Made this for New Year’s Day and it was great.
Carlos C. January 6, 2019
so glad you liked it!
MP C. January 1, 2019
Made this on New Years (fingers crossed!). Was perfect with pork tenderloin and brown rice! Will def make again, New Years or otherwise!
Carlos C. January 1, 2019
I'm so glad you liked it! It's definitely worth making any time of year. And I'll have to try it with pork tenderloin. That sounds like an excellent combination.