Welcoming 2012 with Black-Eyed Pea Polenta Casserole

What would New Year’s Day be without a recipe for black-eyed peas? We’ll get to that shortly. But first, let’s take a quick look back at the top 5 Diabetic Foodie dishes of 2011.

Diabetic Foodie Top 5 for 2011

Cheese Enchiladas with Red Chile Sauce from Emeril Lagasse's Sizzling Skillets

Cheese Enchiladas with Smoky Red Chile Sauce

#5Cheese Enchiladas with Smoky Red Chile Sauce and Slow-Cooked Pulled Pork
This was, by far, my most popular post from the One-Pot Blogging Party for Emeril Lagasse’s cookbook, Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders that debuted in the fall. It seems as though everyone else is a sucker for pulled pork too.

Pesto Chicken Salad with Grapes

Pesto Chicken Salad with Grapes

#4Pesto Chicken Salad with Grapes
In early December, we had a virtual bridal shower for fellow Emeril One-Pot and Virtual Potluck blogger, Marnely (aka Nelly) Rodriguez-Murray of Cooking with Books. Nelly has a bit of a sweet tooth and she makes no secret of her bacon addiction, so I figured there would be plenty of desserts and pig represented at the shower. I “brought” this lovely, versatile chicken salad with pesto and grapes and it was a hit.

Secret Ingredient Beef Stew

Secret Ingredient Beef Stew

#3Secret Ingredient Beef Stew
After overdosing on turkey after Thanksgiving, I tried the winner of Food52‘s Best Beef Stew contest. I must admit I would never have thought to add anchovies to beef stew. This dish was good, but I recently made a different kind of beef stew with Moroccan flavors and butternut squash that I like better. Look for that recipe to be posted in early 2012.

Spicy Mushroom Swirls

Spicy Mushroom Swirls

#2Spicy Mushroom Swirls
This wins the prize for being the first mushroom dish EVER on Diabetic Foodie. I am NOT a fan of the fungus, but when the fantastic folks at Marx Foods sent me some samples to try, I made a mushroom dish with puff pastry and chiles. I won’t say I’ve seen the light, but I did actually eat two of these swirls voluntarily.

Laziz Tikka Masala (Boneless Tandoori Chicken in Spicy Sauce)

Laziz Tikka Masala

#1Laziz Tikka Masala
By far, the most popular dish on Diabetic Foodie during 2011 was this boneless tandoori chicken in spicy sauce from Sanjeev Kapoor’s How to Cook Indian. This dish has all of the flavors you’d get with a Chicken Tikka Masala dish in an Indian restaurant, but is a bit different in color and texture. Look for more Indian dishes in 2012 – this cookbook does have 600 pages, after all.

I’d love to hear what your favorite Diabetic Foodie recipe was from 2011 and what you’d like to see more of in 2012.

Now let’s kick off 2012!

Have you ever wondered why people, especially those in the Southeastern part of the U.S., eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck in the upcoming year? Apparently, the practice dates back to the Civil War. Black-eyed peas were grown to feed livestock, so when Union troops invaded the South, they destroyed other crops, but left the pea fields intact. Black-eyed peas became a lifeline for Confederate soldiers and a symbol of good luck.

Here are some of the legends surrounding black-eyed peas and New Year’s:

  • If you eat the black-eyed peas with greens (e.g. collards), the new year will bring you money. (Shoot, why didn’t I throw some greens into this recipe?)
  • Cornbread represents gold, so if you eat black-eyed peas, greens AND cornbread, you’ll be livin’ large. (Polenta is like cornbread!)
  • Black-eyed peas eaten with stewed tomatoes will bring health in addition to wealth in the new year. (We’ve got tomatoes!)

Here’s hoping 2012 brings you health, wealth and happiness.

Black-eyed Pea Polenta Casserole

Black-Eyed Pea Polenta Casserole

For the black-eyed peas:
2/3 cup dried black-eyed peas (should yield about 2 cups cooked)
½ medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves (preferably fresh ones)
several dashes of Tabasco sauce (optional)

For the casserole:
12 oz lean sausage (I used buffalo andouille from The Buffalo Guys), sliced if pre-cooked, crumbled if raw
1 tsp canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
28 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained (plain or seasoned – pick what works best with your sausage)
¼ tsp garlic pepper
olive oil
freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

For the polenta:
4 cups 2% milk
2 cups water
2 cups polenta or grits (I used Polenta Corn Grits from Bob’s Red Mill)

Prep and cook the black-eyed peas
Place dried black-eyed peas in a large bowl and cover with cold water. The peas will absorb a lot of water, so make sure the water level is an inch or two above the peas. Let sit at room temperature, uncovered, overnight. Drain, rinse and place peas in large stockpot or Dutch oven. Cover with fresh, cold water. Add onion, garlic, bay leaves and Tabasco sauce (if using). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about an hour until the peas are tender, but not mushy. Drain. (Note: do NOT add salt to cooking liquid. Salt prevents peas and beans from absorbing water and makes them tough.)

Prep the casserole
In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, brown sausage in oil. Add onions, tomatoes and garlic pepper. (Note: the sausage I used was extremely spicy, so my version didn’t require additional seasonings. If you are using something like turkey or chicken sausage, you may want to add basil, oregano, garlic, jalapeños, etc.) Cook for 5-10 minutes until the mixture thickens slightly. Add cooked black-eyed peas and remove from heat.

Make the polenta
Place milk and water in large saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisking constantly, add polenta slowly in a steady stream. Reduce heat and simmer polenta, stirring a few times, for about 5 minutes or until thick and creamy. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 5 minutes.

Put it all together
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9- x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Pour in sausage mixture, then spoon polenta over top to cover. Drizzle with olive oil and dust with Parmesan cheese. Bake for about 40 minutes or until bubbling and lightly browned on top.

Makes 12 servings
Per serving: 261 calories, 6g fat (2g sat), 22mg cholesterol, 247mg sodium, 36g carb, 3g fiber, 7g sugar, 14g protein

Below you’ll find 2011 wrap-ups from other fabulous food bloggers. Thanks to Lora from Cake Duchess, Sanjeeta at Lite Bite and Junia of Mis Pensamientos for coordinating this bloghop.


  1. says

    What a wonderful recap of 2011 of some of your scrumptious recipes here. Thanks for joining #Welcome2012 and making it a wonderful event.
    Hope to stay connected for more of foodie fun together in coming years!

  2. says

    I want to make those spicy mushroom swirls, they sounds wonderful! I don’t have a favorite for 2011 since I am a new follower, but just saved you in my feedly.com acct, so will stay up to date:-) I love any thing with polenta, your black eyed peas sound full of happy flavors! Happy New Year:-) Hugs, Terra

  3. says

    Your black eyed peas sound really good! I tried black eyed peas last year for the first time and just didn’t get into them, but I might just need to try them again! Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Wendy says

    So based on your comments about the black eyed peas, I added collard greens to my leftover hoppin john for lunch today. Tomorrow I’ll need to find me some cornbread.

  5. says

    Yum…those enchiladas are calling my name! Great recap and wonderful dishes here. Happy to meet you through this virtual party! Happy new year!

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