While the French slurp raw oysters and sip champagne for good luck on New Years’ Day, our family would tuck into heaps of black eyed peas, fluffy rice, and collard greens. It’s amazing – I always considered it a southern tradition, what with black-eyed peas grown in Virginia all the way back to the 1600s. But apparently the New Year’s tradition dates back to Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year), where in the Talmud it’s recorded that the humble black-eyed pea is a good luck symbol. Apparently, people have been enjoying these little babies for a while.
This recipe is a spin on Hoppin’ John, a popular dish of rice and peas served not only in the south but in the Caribbean as well. The dish is sometimes made without the collard greens and often includes a bit of salt pork. I like the collards because they remind me of my own New Year’s traditions, so I always include them when I can. This version is absolutely vegan and so very flavorful, you won’t miss the pork one bit. It’s good as a standalone dish, but if you are jonesing for some protein, try it with a little sliced andouille sausage or kielbasa. Any way you eat, you’ll be a lucky ducky (if but for having the opportunity to tuck into such a tasty dish!)
Hoppin’ John (Black-eyed Peas and Rice with Collard Greens)
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1/2 a green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion (white is ok), chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp of fresh thyme
2 tbs. of olive oil
1 tbs. of hot sauce
1/2 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp. of white pepper
1 cup of cooked collard greens (see note below)
1 c. of enriched long grain rice
1 can of blackeyed peas
Start with a heavy pot with a lid that is suitable for cooking rice (this is one pot cooking, kids!) and heat your two tbs. of olive oil. Add the celery, onion and bell pepper and saute until translucent. While that is cooking away, drain your black-eyed peas, reserving the liquid in a measuring cup. Add water to make a little less than two cups of liquid. Set both the peas and the liquid aside, separately.
Add the garlic, thyme, hot sauce, salt, white pepper and stir. Add your rice and greens and stir the mixture. Allow to cook for a minute and then add the peas. Stir, making sure not to break up the peas and then add the liquid. Bring to a boil, pop on the lid and turn the heat to low. Cook until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 20-25 minutes. Pull off the lid and fluff with a fork. Return lid and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff again and serve.
- For this recipe, I often use leftover Couve (Brazilian Style Collards cooked in garlic and oil), but if you are starting from scratch, you can always use frozen collard greens. You can actually nuke them to defrost quickly, drain of an excess water, and then stir them into the rice.
- Rice is one of those things that you have to trust to cook and not open the pot until the end. When you open the pot while it’s cooking, you release all the steam inside the pot, which is the secret element to make it fluffy and gorgeous. Keep the pot closed until the last few minutes of cooking when it’s acceptable to open the lid. A trick that I use to tell if the water is absorbed without opening the pot is to carefully put my ear next to the bottom of the pot to hear if there is water still bubbling at the bottom. But be careful – I am not going to be responsible for you setting your hair on fire. You shouldn’t be using that much Aquanet anyways.