To make a traditional Southern black-eyed pea dish, place 1 pound of dried peas in a heavy-bottomed pot with enough water to cover them by approximately 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil, and boil the peas for two minutes before taking the pot off the heat and letting it sit covered for one hour. Drain and rinse the peas, and set them aside.
Sauté chopped onion in olive oil until the onion is tender before mixing in chopped pork belly, garlic and thyme. Season the mixture with red pepper flakes, black pepper and bay leaves, and let it cook for approximately one minute before adding broth or water. Place the peas in the pot along with smoked ham hocks. Simmer the mixture for approximately 40 minutes until the peas become tender. Remove the bay leaves and ham hocks. Remove the ham meat from the hocks, and return it to the pot.
To make a vegetarian version, boil the peas for two minutes and let them sit for an hour. Drain the liquid, and add the peas back to the pot along with enough water to cover them. Add a bay leaf, and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook for 20 minutes before adding some red wine vinegar and salt. Cook for another 20 minutes until the peas are tender. Meanwhile, simmer chopped greens such as kale or collards in salt water for three to five minutes. Drain the greens, and toss them with lemon juice. Drain the peas, remove the bay leaf, and mix in lemon juice, chopped parsley, chopped oregano, sliced scallions and diced tomatoes. Mix everything together, and serve the dish warm with the greens on the side.