Pasta and Black-Eyed Peas 4.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Apr 4, 2018

Black-eyed peas, as well as other types of cowpeas, are cooked throughout Italy. They may be prepared simply or combined with other vegetables, rice or pasta. Here, the pasta is added to the peas once they are tender, to cook in the same pot. Celery and parsley brighten the delicate, earthy flavor of the peas, but other herbs can be used instead, such as rosemary or marjoram.

The resulting dish may be prepared as soupier than what is pictured; adjust the liquid to suit your taste. The recipe is easily halved or quartered, although depending on the size of your pot, you may need to use more water.

To read the accompanying story, see: You only need one pot to make these simple Italian pasta dishes.

Make Ahead: The black-eyed peas need to soak for 4 to 8 hours.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings; makes about 7 cups

  • 8 ounces dried black-eyed peas
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more as needed
  • 10 large sprigs flat-leaf parsley, leaves chopped and stems finely chopped (separately)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 5 cups water, or more as needed
  • 12 ounces dried pasta, preferably a small shape such as gnocchette, ditalini, orecchiette or cavatelli)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt, or more as needed
  • 1/4 cup celery leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, for serving (optional)


Pour the black-eyed peas into a mixing bowl and cover with cool water by 2 inches. Soak for 4 to 8 hours, then drain and rinse.

Heat the oil in a wide, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the onion; cook for about 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic, pepper and parsley stems; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then stir in the tomato paste until evenly distributed. Add the drained black-eyed peas, stirring to incorporate.

Pour in the water, then cover, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and cook for 10 to 20 minutes, until the peas are barely tender.

Add the salt and the pasta, cover and cook until al dente, stirring regularly to keep the pasta from sticking and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain minimal bubbling. Depending on the pasta variety, the cooking time may take about 5 minutes longer than indicated on the package, so begin tasting the pasta when the suggested cooking time has elapsed, and continue tasting every minute until it is cooked through but still firm.

The resulting dish should resemble a very thick soup, and the sauce should coat the pasta in a thick gloss. If the mixture seems too dry, add a little water to reach the desired texture, keeping in mind the pasta will continue to absorb liquid as it cools. Once the pasta is cooked through but still firm, add the celery and parsley leaves, taste for seasoning, cover and let the pasta rest for 2 to 3 minutes.

Just before serving, add a good squeeze of lemon juice, if desired.

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Recipe Source

From food writer Emily Horton.

Tested by Sarah Brooks.

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