Soul food gets a bad rap because it’s typically filled with unhealthy ingredients like butter, sugar, and meat and can use unhealthy preparations like deep-frying. Creating vegan soul food was important for me to prove to myself that I could still have all my favorite comfort foods. Being able to research and play around with so many exciting and new (to me) plant-based ingredients has opened a new door of creativity in the kitchen. My dishes and recipes are specifically designed to pay homage to classic soul food staples while using healthier ingredients and cooking techniques and without compromising the delicious flavors of traditional soul food.—Nadira Jenkins-El

Black-Eyed Pea Salad FAQs

Can I use canned or dried black-eyed peas?

Sure you can (ha! Get it?) For canned peas, just sub in two 15-ounce cans, thoroughly rinsed. Easy-peasy. For dried black-eyed peas, you’re going to have to plan ahead. First, they have to soak overnight (this helps to keep them from splitting open) before you cook them. Let us direct you to Step 2 of this delicious recipe that uses black-eyed peas for cooking instructions. Finally, you can cook them in your Instant Pot for 30 minutes on high pressure.

What temperature should I serve this salad at?

Jenkins-El suggests that you let it sit, at room temperature, for an hour before serving to let the flavors meld. The lower temperatures of the refrigerator dull the flavors a little so leave it out before serving, if possible. That’s not to say that you won’t love a big scoop straight from the fridge, but room temperature is the best way to go if you can.

Black-eyed pea salad in a large oval bowl, on a blue and white checked tablecloth, beside a wooden spoon.

Black-Eyed Pea Salad

3.86 / 7 votes
I love to eat this fresh, filling, and versatile salad with crackers, as a topping on a green salad, or as a side dish with coconut greens and buttermilk biscuits or cornbread waffles. Try it over cooked quinoa or rice for a quick and hearty meal.
David Leite
Servings6 to 10 servings
Calories202 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Total Time30 minutes


  • 2 cups (10 oz) frozen ready-to-eat black-eyed peas, thawed
  • 1 cup (6 oz) frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1 medium (about 4.5 oz) cucumber, seeded and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 medium (about 6 oz) orange or red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup (9 oz) diced Roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup (1 oz) chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup (1 oz) chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz) diced red onion
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup sunflower or olive oil
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes), plus more if needed
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons agave nectar
  • Avocado slices, for topping (optional)


  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the black-eyed peas, corn, cucumber, celery, bell pepper, tomatoes, parsley, cilantro, onion, jalapeño, if using, and garlic.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, salt, black pepper, and agave nectar until well combined.
  • Pour the dressing over the bean mixture and toss well. Taste and, if desired, add more lime juice, salt, and pepper.
  • For best results, let the salad sit for up to one hour at room temperature to marry the flavors. Serve at room temperature or chilled, topped with the avocado slices, if desired.
Vegan Soul Food

Adapted From

Vegan Soul Food

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 202 kcalCarbohydrates: 25 gProtein: 6 gFat: 10 gSaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 7 gSodium: 402 mgFiber: 6 gSugar: 7 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2020 Nadira Jenkins-El. Photo © 2020 Hélène Dujardin. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Serving way more than six, this black-eyed pea salad makes leftovers for days, but I like that it used up each vegetable rather than requiring 1/2 of anything. While the recipe is nearly perfect, one may want a squirt more lime juice, more garlic, and another teaspoon of salt. Leaving it on the counter for an hour before serving allowed the cucumbers and tomatoes to weep in the salt, and provided more flavorful dressing. One large jalapeño gave the right amount of heat.

After five hearty main-course servings the first night, the rest went on top of cheese and beef nachos the following two evenings. I will keep frozen black-eyed peas on hand after this—a new pantry staple. Since it’s great at room temperature, it will work well for picnics and lunches.

Hear me out. I don’t love black-eyed peas. But I always seem to have a bag of them courtesy of my bean subscription to the Rancho Gordo Bean Club. So, I do my best to use them up. This black-eyed pea salad recipe has so many other elements going on with it, crunchy veg, fresh herbs, lime, and avocado, that the peas kind of take a back seat to everything else and provide a creamy backbone for the rest of the show. And yes, I really enjoyed them in this preparation.

I do like a forward note of acid, and my personal preference is to go with at least 4 tablespoons of lime juice, with perhaps an extra wedge to squeeze. I’m not a fan of frozen corn, and I felt that it was lost within the rest of the dish. If I were to use corn again in this dish I’d wait until fresh corn was in season and I bet it would be excellent.

I served this with a beautiful piece of halibut, and enjoyed the leftover salad for lunch for the next two days without any loss of quality. Make it again in my opinion!

I chose this black-eyed pea salad recipe because it’s a high-protein, dairy-free hearty salad. I wasn’t disappointed. The flavor is delicious, it’s fresh, it kept well for leftovers and I was able to send it to school for kid’s lunches. I found it even tastier the next day, and so would consider mixing the dressing/peas/onions ahead of time and adding the remaining ingredients immediately before serving.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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3.86 from 7 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 1 star
    This salad has no flavor. I’m guessing something is missing in the dressing. There are many recipes similar to this (that use black beans instead of black-eyed peas) which have much more flavor. I would not make again.

    1. We’re sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy this, Steve. Our testers all raved about the flavor, but if you feel like it was lacking something, you could try adding some chili powder or cayenne to the dressing, or a little cumin.