There are many types of cowpeas; some are more commonly eaten than others. Catjang cowpeas are a less common variety. They are native to Africa but now grow in warm regions around the world, including Latin America, Southeast Asia and the southern part of the United States. Commonly cultivated for their nutty taste and high nutritional value, the seeds are little energy powerhouses packed with minerals and vitamins, including folate and magnesium.
Protein-packed cowpeas are a quickgrowing cover crop and are drought hardy and heat-tolerant. They are also a strong nitrogen-fixer, capable of thriving in poor soils and self-seeding. Cowpeas are also able to withstand grazing pressures from livestock.
Cowpeas make a hearty, thick soup while their leaves can be enjoyed in the same ways as other leafy greens. The pods can also be eaten when young and are used in stews. With their outer coating removed, the seeds can also be ground into flour and used to make deep-fried or steamed patties. In Senegal, Ghana and Benin, the flour is used in crackers and other baked goods.