Below the Mason-Dixon line, black-eyed peas are a traditional dish eaten in honor of the secular New Year. In the South, the tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day stems from the belief that they are a symbol of good luck. One of the most interesting reasons given for their lucky status (though I cannot vouch for, and highly question the validity of this account) is that during the Civil War, when Union forces, under the leadership of William Tecumseh Sherman, plundered the Confederate food supply, all that was left were black-eyed peas. The Confederate forces considered themselves fortunate to have been left with only these peas to survive on and made them a future symbol of luck. However, us Jews have been eating black-eyed peas on the New Year of the world, Rosh Hashana, way before Sherman ever heard the word 'Atlanta.' According to the tradition of Sephardic Jews, the Aramaic term Rubia refers to black-eyed peas, a legume thought to have its origins in West and North Africa. As the word rubia sounds a lot like the Hebrew word Yirbu/Ribuyi, meaning "to increase," it has become the custom among Sephardic Jews to treat these black-dotted peas as a "word-play" siman (symbolic Rosh Hashana food) to signify that "our merits should increase" in the coming year. While here in the South we traditionally cook up black-eyed peas by stewing them with onion, garlic, and smoked turkey leg (in place of ham hocks),turning them into an awesome, earthy hummus is another great way to serve them as part of the simianim seder, along with the other symbolic foods we traditionally eat on the eve of Rosh Hashana.
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse-blend until smooth and creamy. Transfer to serving dish, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with smoked paprika, cumin, and fresh cilantro before serving. Enjoy and may your merits increase.