Appetizer Side dish

Purple hull pea salad

Purple hull pea salad DSC5329

I’ve been working on the pickle section of my book, and I’ve concluded that just about anything can be brined and preserved. Fruit, vegetables, meat, and eggs—it’s a rare food that doesn’t get a flavor boost from vinegar, spices, aromatics, salt and (sometimes) sugar. So when I was trying to come up with new ways to serve the pounds of purple hull peas I brought back with me from Texas, my decision was simple: I’d pickle my purple hull peas.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of eating purple hull peas, they’re a field pea that is similar to black-eyed peas, but with a more delicate and sweet flavor. They’re also prettier with their light-purple blush.

Purple hull pea salad | Homesick Texan

My family never grew purple-hull peas because apparently with these good looks comes high maintenance—they’re a lot tougher to shell than other field peas. But if you do persist, you will be rewarded with a creamy, light pea that needs little adornment to taste wonderful.

In Texas, this time of year you will find fresh purple-hull peas sold on the side of the road, at farmers markets and at many grocery stores, too. I’ve never seen them sold fresh, frozen or dried in New York, which is why I’ve taken to stocking up if I happen to make it home during the summer. Though if you live in Texas, you’ll find them year round in the freezer section as well as fresh during the summer

The simplest way to prepare them is to boil them for about half an hour, with some aromatics such as onion and garlic. You can also throw in some bacon and jalapeños if you’re feeling bold. And with just a sprinkle of salt and a wedge of cornbread, you’ll have yourself a fine feast.

To stave off summer’s heat, however, I wanted to make something cold and tangy. So instead of serving a steaming bowl, I instead tossed my cooked peas with some lime juice, jalapeños, peppers, garlic and olive oil, stuck them in a jar and refrigerated them. And yep, I decided that they were indeed pickled!

Purple hull pea salad | Homesick Texan

These go well with chips, in a scooped-out tomato, tossed in a salad or simply eaten on their own. And if you can’t find purple hull peas, you can easily substitute black-eyed peas.

What do you like to make with purple hull peas?

Purple hull pea salad DSC5329
5 from 1 vote

Purple hull pea salad

Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 6
Author Lisa Fain


  • 4 cups shelled purple hull peas uncooked (or 2 15-oz cans drained and rinsed of all juice)
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1-2 jalapeño chiles, finely diced (amount based on how hot you want the salad!)
  • 1 ripe tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayene
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Salt
  • Black pepper


  1. If using fresh purple hull peas, place them in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 40 minutes or until tender. Drain.

  2. Mix the purple hull peas with the garlic, jalapeños, tomato, cilantro, cumin, cayenne, olive oil and lime juice. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

  3. Chill for 4 hours and then serve. Can serve in a scooped-out tomato, with tortilla chips or as a stand-alone side dish.

  1. I love purple hull peas. Never thought of them as particularly Texan, but since I've never lived anywhere else… I'm just spoiled! I have fond memories of my family (parents, two brothers and grandmother) all shelling peas in appropriate sized bowls while watching the Miss America (I think?) pagents. We would buy a huge bag (bushel?) unshelled to save money. 🙂

  2. DessertForTwo

    I don't know how you read my mind, but I made something very similar to this just last night! Of course, I couldn't find my beloved purple hulls in Northern California, so I used black eyed peas.
    Great photos 🙂
    Hope the book is coming along nicely!

  3. it looks so delicious!

    have a nice time!

  4. Sounds like Texas Caviar (though typically I use black eyed peas). Always serve with tortilla chips!

  5. Kelly @ EvilShenanigans

    My Big Granny (great-grandmother) used to make something like this around this time of year, and we would eat it with every meal when I was little. Big Granny was a large German woman who became devoted to Southern cooking and she taught my grandmother, and my mother everything she knew. Thanks for posting this and reminding me of her!

  6. Steff @ The Kitchen Trials

    I'll be in Houston later this month. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to have some time to snag some of these for myself.

    Also, I love your 'ladies who lunch' presentation of the peas in the tomato. =)

  7. Lana @ Never Enough Thyme

    Purple hull peas are a staple here in Georgia, too. I put them in my freezer every summer so we have them all year round. They're also sometimes called Pink Eye Purple Hulls around here 🙂

  8. Denise | Chez Danisse

    I've been thinking of pickles lately too. I just made some this weekend. Your salad looks fabulous and very different from the spicy sweet pickles recipe I posted. I like your spice combination with lime and olive oil. I'm made a similar salad with black beans and added some avocado. I'd love to try these purple hull peas. I'm intrigued.

    PS–I just recently made your buttermilk dressing, again. It's the best!

  9. My Cajun great-grandmother used to make purple hull pea jelly! They always remind me of Louisiana rather than Texas for that reason, I think. I have fond memories of shelling peas with her and helping her can them during my summer visits. This looks delicious! No chance of finding those in England, I'm afraid! But I'm sure I might be able to find some Black-Eye Beans (what they call black-eyed peas).

  10. Anonymous

    My first job was picking purple hull peas in Ashley County, Arkansas as a kid. I remember a nice old man teaching me to fluff the bushel to look full before I turned it into the foreman. (Purple hull peas bought a few Kiss records and hair barrettes that summer.) Say "purple hull pea" to me and the creamy, starch, sweet taste of them and that same smell in the field comes to mind. Look, now you made me homesick again.

  11. heather @ chiknpastry

    I've never heard of purple hull peas, but they look so pretty!

    I do however, love to pickle/brine things. This year has been the basics – snow peas, pickles, and the chicken brine (which is amazing, and now i think all chicken should be brined!), but with the CSA getting really good, i'm sure there will be a lot more!

  12. Lisa Fain

    Anna–I think they're not exclusive to Texas but they're definitely Southern! And what a great memory about your family shelling peas!

    DessertforTwo–Yep, black-eyed peas are all I can get here, too. Though I love them also!

    Paula–Thank you!

    Kathryn–Tortilla chips are wonderful wit this!

    Kelly–It's perfect in the summer because it's cool and tangy. And what a wonderful story about Big Granny!

    Steff–Go to Central Market and you should find them!

    Lana–I like that name, Pink Eye Purple Hull!

    Densise–This would be great with black beans and avocado!

    Anon–I love that purple hull peas helped supply you with Kiss records! What a great story!

    Jewlz–I was reading about that jelly! What does it taste like?

    Heather–Yep, pickling's one of my favorite ways to preserve food as well.

  13. Screwed Up Texan

    I'm impressed with the hollowed out tomato! My mother was always cooking us black eyed peas, but I never had purple hulled peas. May try this with black eyed peas!

  14. Lisa Fain

    Screwed Up Texan–I saw purple hull peas at Dallas's Central Market a couple of weeks ago, but black-eyed peas are a perfect substitute.

  15. I saw your spotlight on CNN's Eatocracy and say "hey wait – that's one of my foodie blogs that i read religiously!" Just wanted to say Congrats 🙂

  16. fotographiafoodie

    Oddly enough, I love pickled things. I think they add just a little somethin-somethin to food. Thanks for the recipe!

  17. Have you ever tried Pickled Watermelon Rind?

  18. lisa is cooking

    I'm a fan of beans in salad with lots of vinegariness, so this sounds great to me. I love the idea of scooping these up with chips too!

  19. Anonymous

    Yum! Love purple hulls any way you want to make them, but this way sounds soooo good right now, in the heat of the summer.

    And yes, we even have them here in WV! Got some in the freezer waiting for just the right way to prepare them – which this looks to be! Thanks!!


    PS Think they were originally poor folks food because they were so hard to shell. Then again, most of the field peas and stuff like that were livestock and hired hand kinda food.

  20. Lisa Fain

    Ren-Yi–Thank you!

    Fotographiafoodie–I agree, I love the tang of pickled foods.

    Heidi–I have–wonderful!

    Lisa is Cooking–It does make for a great dip!

    Pete–Oh, now that makes sense! Thank you for the explanation!

  21. Sweet Pea Chef

    I've never heard of purple-hull peas before, but they look delicious!

  22. Tasty Eats At Home

    This reminds me of the purple hull pea version of a Texas caviar. But boy, does it sound refreshing and yummy!

  23. Love those purple hull peas! And can't wait to try your salad, it looks delicious! You are right, they aren't easy to shell. I grew some this year in my NEW garden and couldn't wait for the first bowl until I started shelling! They are worth it thou. Thanks love your blog!

  24. Hmmmmm … I'm going to have to find me some of those, because pickled peas on corn chips sounds divine!!

  25. Lisa Fain

    Sweet Pea–They are!

    Tasty Eats at Home–Yes indeed, they are very similar.

    Karen–It's much better to get them already shelled, I think.

    Ann–Don't know if you'll find them fresh up here, but perhaps canned. Or you could grow them!

  26. Bridget Davis

    Ohh looks nomlicious!!!

    Thank you for sharing.
    Bridget (The Internet Chef)

  27. Anonymous

    How spicy does this turn out? A little leary with the jalapenos & cayenne. I love fresh jalapenos, but have others that might not like.

  28. Lisa Fain

    Linda–I don't think it's too spicy, but you can cut down on the jalapeño and cayenne if you're concerned.

  29. Shelley

    This post made me smile because I have an episode on shelling peas. Such good talk went on over those vegetables!

  30. Anonymous

    This was excellent, made it this weekend – I like the use of lime juice and just the simplicity of it. I did cut back on the olive oil. And I didn't get the chance to buy fresh peas so bought canned black-eye…don't know if it was the brand, but half of them were mushy and the skins were off, so it didn't look too pretty. I am going to try again and buy fresh. Or I have seen frozen purple hulls, any ideas if those are ok? Thanks again for a variation I liked better than the traditional Texas Caviar.

  31. Anonymous

    Purple Hulled Peas… OMG….I'm in SC, but my Dad swore everyone HAD to grow a tomato plant AND purple hulled peas. Grew up in a well to do ranch house… Dad tilled a nice swath where the water dripped from the roof… he attached welded wire to the roof soffit and to the ground at the drip line. He'd plant purple hulled peas just inside the slanted wire, and tomato plants just outside the drip line. We'd enjoy way too many peas and way too many tomatoes… but everyone was fat and happy…LOL. PS.. yes we had to climb a ladder to harvest the peas. Fond memories.

  32. David H.

    Purple hull peas and cornbread and creamed potatoes (not at the same time mind you) are what I miss most since I moved north. Followed closely by boiled peanuts, fried chicken livers and fried okra. I cannot tell you how many sunday afternoons I spent shelling peas from the garden… Thanks for the reminder

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