January 1st, 2011

Hoppin’ New Year


No self-respecting Southerner would dream of beginning a new year without a heaping bowl of Hoppin’ John. No ma’am. Black-eyed peas simmered to creamy bite with jasmine rice plumped up in its savory broth insure the finest form of good luck, if only by the fact that you are mighty lucky to dine on such a humble, delectable dish.

Typically, Hoppin’ John is cooked with pork (This is, after all, The South) using pieces of ham hock or chunky bacon, to render rich smokiness. But, in our household, we cook up a vegetarian version with terrific results.

A hefty dose of garlic and onion cooked to translucence in olive oil makes a fine start. Be sure to shake in a little fire; crushed red pepper flakes begin to release their zing in warm oil. Adding vegetable stock to simmer the black-eyeds after they’ve had a roll around in the onion-garlic sauté brings more flavor. A couple of bay leaves tossed into the broth is quite nice, too.


As with most legumes, when you have good fresh peas, it doesn’t take much to help them along. And, you don’t want to mask the black-eyed’s intrinsic creamy nature–you want to bolster!

If you use dry beans, it is best to soak them for for at least 4 hours. (It’s fine to soak them the day before.) Fresh peas (which I used this time) just need to be rinsed before cooking. The fresh peas take less time to cook–less than an hour, really. Soaked dried beans require anywhere from 2-3 hours.

When the peas are tender, but have a little resistance, add the rice. Cover and continue to simmer for 20 minutes or so. The rice will absorb the rich broth as it cooks. While that’s cooking, you can go on to the next step…

We like to serve The Hoppin’ with some sort of hearty greens: kale, mustard, turnip, collards. Not only delicious, they are part of the lore: chopped up, those greens resemble folding money–a significant piece of the Hoppin’ John road to prosperity.


This year I was drawn to the great ceremonial fans of collards, lovely dark green leaves with a vivid network of white veins. I enjoy the earthy bitterness of greens, but like to have that bitter edge balanced with a little acid, sweet, and heat. Many recipes call for adding sugar to the braise, also vinegar. I resisted that, and wanted to try something new. In my research, I came across a few recipes that used tomatoes, and that seemed to be an interesting direction for me to follow.

And, very lucky!

I discovered that making a braising base with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and coriander accomplished that desired balance without using that white devil, sugar. The tomato’s sweet yet acidic nature took the place of both sugar and vinegar. It caramelized and coated the collards in the braise. Coriander provided depth and heat.


The collards’ thick leaves have a natural resiliency, yet cook to tenderness. I think that you’ll enjoy their toothsome bite. Right now, they are my favorite greens. On this first day of 2011 I may not be ready to make grand resolutions, but I’m excited to begin the year pairing something tried-and-true with something new!

Here’s to a year of creativity and prosperity—in whatever forms it manifests.

2 cups fresh Black Eyed Peas (1 cup dried, soaked, and rinsed)
5 cloves Garlic, minced
1 large Onion, chopped
Olive Oil
Red Pepper Flakes
6 cups Vegetable Broth, or Water (or combination)
2 Bay Leaves
Salt and Black Pepper
Louisiana Hot Sauce (optional)
1 cup Jasmine Rice

In a large pot, sauté onions and garlic in olive oil. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. When translucent, add black-eyed peas. Stir well, allowing the peas to become coated with the seasoned oil. Add vegetable broth (and/or water) and 2 bay leaves. Season with a little salt and black pepper. Cover with tight-fitting lid and let the peas simmer until almost done (45 minutes for fresh peas, about 2 hours for dried/soaked peas) Test the peas–the skins should remain intact, but the interiors should be somewhat creamy.

Stir in rice and cover. Simmer until rice has absorbed the liquid, and is cooked–about 20-25 minutes. Fluff the Hoppin’ John with a fork. Taste for salt.

Serve up in a bowl, alongside greens. Pass the Louisiana Hot Sauce, for a little extra ping!

Makes 4-6 servings


1 large bunch fresh Collards, washed well, stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
1 can chopped Tomatoes and juice
Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, diced
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 t. Coriander
Red Pepper Flakes

In a deep pot on medium heat, add olive oil and sauté onions and garlic until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and juice. Season with salt, red pepper flakes, and coriander. Cook the mixture for 5 minutes, then stir in collards, a handful at a time. Stir to coat the leaves with the tomato braise, and keep adding greens until all are in the pot. They will begin to collapse. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and allow the greens to braise for 15-20 minutes.


With optimism and goodwill, a HAPPY 2011 from Nancy
Good Food Matters

Posted in Recipes, Rice/Other Grains/Legumes, Vegan, Vegetables

21 Responses to “Hoppin’ New Year”
  1. Emily P Says:

    On the stove now, thanks to this prompting! Had all ingredients on hand, but with an under-the-weather husband and no one else in the vicinity to share the meal with, was just going to skip the black eyed peas and greens this year…. Nancy, no doubt you’ve saved us from a year of un-prosperity – thanks!

  2. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    I adore collard greens, it’s one of the most nutrient dense leafy green vegetables. This looks like a good way to kick off the New Year!

    Happy New Year Nancy!

  3. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    I did eat black eyed peas today, but no Hoppin’ John. I need some Hoppin’ John.

  4. Faith Says:

    What a lovely New Year’s dish, Nancy! I want to wish you and yours a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!

  5. Michele Napoli Says:

    What a healthy way to start the new year. Wishing you much prosperity, health and happiness!

  6. Anna Johnston Says:

    I read this recipe was a real fave in the US., lovin’ it. I don’t think I’ve ever had it before but it looks fabulous. Happy New Year to you, hope 2011 is a fabulous one for you.

  7. Nancy Says:

    Hi Nancy,

    Ooh, you made hoppin’ john! It looks so delicious – I have never made it myself, but I am bookmarking your recipe for next January 1st! We did have kale, though, sauteed with onion, apple, and coriander (loved the coriander in there – I imagine it’s great with the collards, too), so hopefully that will bring a lucky 2011. Happy New Year!


  8. Michele Says:

    Please can you tell how large a can of tomatoes I should use in the Collard greens recipe?

  9. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Michele-a regular sized can will do the trick. I had a pint jar of tomatoes that I had canned from the summer–and I didn’t use all of that. Enjoy!

  10. Tracy Says:

    Happy 2011, Nancy! I love the name Hoppin’ John.

  11. Barbara Says:

    Well, I didn’t make it, but a friend did. And shared it with us. So that counts! Good luck for the entire year, right Nancy?

    Love your recipe…I should offer to make it next year.

    Happy New Year!

  12. foodonfifth.com, Teresa Blackburn Says:

    Love those black eyed peas! What a delicious sounding simple recipe…I’ll make this version next year. Happy New Year to you and all your recipes in this year, 2011.

  13. Karen Says:

    Glorious Southern comfort food! I LOVE all those slow cooked Southern dishes featuring copious amounts of greens, beans, rice, and pork (andouille sausage being my favorite). Simply delicious. Happy New Year!

  14. Jung Says:

    nancy, thank you again for having us over for breakfast. i missed your waffle post the first time around, but i feel so lucky to have had the real thing! happy new year!

  15. Juliana Says:

    Nancy, these are so healthy…I must confess that I never had black eyed peas…will have to try soon since I’ve seen in the local grocery store. I love collar green…Happy New Year Nancy!

  16. FOODESSA Says:

    Well, today I just got a little more informed on the culinary culture of the South. I had no idea that Black-eyed peas were so prized ;o)

    This dish sounds lovely and I just may try it out since these peas are still a variety I haven’t had the pleasure to meet ;)

    Happy New Year Nancy…and many desired wishes to come your way.
    Ciao for now,

  17. Joyti Says:

    I feel like such a California girl right now, because I hadn’t heard of HOPPIN’ JOHN until I read your post. We – my family that is – do eat black eyed peas/beans – and rice, but as separate dishes. The combination sounds interesting. And delicious too.

  18. blackbookkitchendiaries Says:

    wow this sounds both healthy and yummy :) cant wait to dig in some of this!! thanks for sharing this.

  19. Kath Says:

    Well I have never heard of Hoppin’ John before, I was expecting the inclusion of frog legs. It does sound delicious, especially with it being free of frog legs :).

  20. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Kath-that’s hilarious! yes, it’s definitely frogs-legs-free!!

  21. Madeleine Says:

    Still delicious! Happy 2016!!

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