You can’t lose with a legume that’s this delicious, nutritious, and easy to prepare. It’s no wonder they’re considered lucky.

I love beans. Lentils. Legumes. Dried. Canned. Fresh. I really love them all.

There are probably thousands of dishes you can make right off the top of your head using beans.

But there is a problem, especially if you prefer to use the dried variety. To paraphrase my favorite author, “To soak, or not to soak, THAT is the question.”

Though I will admit to you that canned beans have come a long way, and are now not only acceptable, but frequently wonderful, I still reach for the dried ones most of the time. I am also of two minds about the soaking question. Yes, soaking reduces the cooking time. But in order to achieve that reduction, you have to plan 12 hours ahead, something I often don’t do. I generally make recipes that allow me to lengthen the cooking time and just go with unsoaked beans.

However, there is a glorious legume that makes this consideration moot. Add to that, an incredible flavor, and a versatility unsurpassed amongst pulses. And, there is no soaking. You heard me—no soaking required.

I’ve lived with a Southerner for over 40 years. So, I learned early on that every January 1st, I had no choice but to make black eyed peas. They bring luck for the year, you know. And, equally early on, I discovered that I had really been missing something wonderful. No matter how you prepare them, black eyed peas have a bright flavor that separates them from all other dried beans. It’s almost a citrus-like bite that lifts them out of what can be a heaviness beans often present.

And they could not be simpler to prepare. I will often just toss them in a pot with chopped onions, garlic, salt, red pepper (crushed flakes or sliced fresh), and water and half an hour later I’m happily gorging. But that's just a basic preparation. If I’m really in the mood for a deep dive into the South, all I need to add is a smoked ham hock. There may be nothing better.

But you needn’t confine yourself to the southern U.S. India and black eyed peas are very good friends. As are Mexico, and the West Indies. And that’s just the beginning. Add dried black eyed peas to your pantry, and you’ll soon realize that the fact that they need no soaking, their speed and ease of preparation, as well as versatility and that surprising brightness, will make them a star in your rotation from the very first time you prepare them. Not sure where to start? Give one of these favorite black eyed pea recipes a try:

And P.S.—I haven’t spent a New Year's Day in 42 years without a bowl of black eyed peas, and I’ve been a pretty lucky fella… just sayin’. Is it the peas? I have no proof, but I’m not taking any chances.