This very simple dish lets the flavor of these amazing heirloom field peas shine.  Steeped in history, Sea Island Red Peas are a more flavorful and diminutive cousin to black eyed peas and are grown only on the Carolina Sea Islands. Introduced from Africa by enslaved people, they became a staple of the Gullah Geechee kitchen, typically paired with Carolina Gold Rice. During the depression, cultivation came to a stop and the Sea Island Red Pea nearly went extinct. Thankfully due to a few small farms they are making a comeback. Sea Island Red Peas are the original ingredient for Hoppin' John, a Low Country New Years tradition served with collard greens and said to bring good luck all year. They are meaty and slightly sweet, but unlike the store bought black eyed peas you may have tried in the past they are packed with deep, rich flavor that can be described as "meaty." No matter what time of year, Sea Island Red Peas will enliven a pot of beans, salad, soups and stews.


  • 1 cup Sea Island red peas
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced celery (reserve celery leaves)
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 3 cups chicken (or veg) stock
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.

Serve with Carolina Gold Rice and a good southern hot sauce like Red Clay Original Hot Sauce.


In a thick bottom pot sauté the onion, celery and carrot until tender. Add stock, thyme and bay leaves. Rinse the red peas well and add to the pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes until tender.  Remove the thyme stem and bay leaves, top with chopped celery leaves and serve with Carolina Gold Rice and hot sauce.

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