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Hoppin’ John

I can’t think of a better way to begin the New Year than making a big pot of Hoppin’ John and collards.  I love starting a year off with this omen of good fortune, but I’d probably make Hoppin’ John even if it didn’t come with the promise of good luck and prosperity in the months ahead.  To me, the wholesome combination of brown rice, black-eyed peas, and dark leafy greens, is a wonderful reminder of just how healthy, economical, and delicious vegan food can be. And making this dish on New Year’s Day is a wonderful affirmation of this.

Over the years, I’ve had fun experimenting with different ways to serve Hoppin’ John.  I usually include chopped cooked collards right in with it (rather than on the side as is tradition) because the flavors are so harmonious and the bright flecks of green add some much-needed color.  I always serve it at least once in the traditional way, with lots of Tabasco and vegan sour cream on the side, but I always like to try something new, too — which is why I make lots. Last year, I made these fantastic collard rolls stuffed with Hoppin’ John. They were so good — and pretty too.

I’m also thinking about making a variation of the Collard and Red Bean Fritters from Party Vegan, using the Hoppin’ John instead of the red beans. Or maybe I’ll just reheat the leftovers — it’s even better the next day.

If you’ve never made Hoppin’ John, here’s a recipe.  If you can’t find fresh or frozen collard greens where you live, you can substitute any kind of cooked leafy greens, such as chard, spinach, or kale. 

Hint:  Cook your rice, collards, and beans ahead of time to save time on New Year’s Day.  Sometimes I even make the whole recipe a day ahead and then just reheat it when ready to serve.
Hoppin’ John

Hoppin’ John is a Southern dish that is said to bring good luck in the New Year. Collards or other dark greens (said to bring prosperity) are traditionally served on the side, but I add them right in. Liquid Smoke adds a salty/smoky flavor, but start out with just 1/2 teaspoon (you can add more just before serving) since it’s highly concentrated and a little goes a long way. As a variation, add some minced vegan bacon or sausage when cooking the onion to amplify the smoky flavor.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large sweet yellow onion, chopped
3 cups cooked or canned black-eyed peas
9 to 10 ounces collard greens, cooked and chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
1/2 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
3 cups cooked brown rice
Salt and black pepper
Tabasco, to serve
Vegan sour cream, to serve

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the onion, cover, and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the black-eyed peas, collards, thyme, paprika, if using, 1/2 teaspoon Liquid Smoke, and stir to combine. Add the rice and season with salt and pepper to taste, stirring gently to mix well and heat through. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more salt, pepper, or Liquid Smoke, if needed. Serve hot with Tabasco and sour cream at the table to add at will.

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