When the clock stroke midnight on New Year’s Eve, did you dive a spoon into a pot of Hoppin’ John so you’d have good luck in 2011? Don’t worry, I didn’t either. But I made up for it today by cooking up a pot of what I’ve dubbed Kickin’ Vegan Hoppin’ John, so hopefully I’ll be swimming in green this year.
Hoppin’ John is an African-American dish that is eaten on New Year’s for good luck. The main ingredient is usually black-eyed peas (said to be brought to America by African slaves working on the rice plantations), served with rice. To cinch the deal, people usually eat some kind of greens—the color of money–with their Hoppin’ John.
There seem to be as many versions of Hoppin’ John as there are stories about how it got it that odd name or why it brings you good luck. My theory is that it’s basically a pretty healthy dish, and, as they say, “Health is Wealth.”
Black-eyed peas take less time to cook than most other beans, but they don’t have much flavor. Hoppin’ John is usually made with bacon or a ham hock, but vegetarians have to find other ways to give it a kick. Since one of my New Year’s resolutions is to find new ways to encourage myself and others to eat healthy and local foods as much as possible, I was eager to create a cheap, healthy recipe that would please both vegetarians and meat-eaters. I hope this dish will help you enjoy a happy, healthy 2011.
Kickin’ Vegan Hoppin’ John
Olive oil spray
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, cored and julienned
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 hot green chili, cored and most or all of the seeds removed, depending on how hot you like your food
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight, drained, and cooked until barely soft (you can substitute 2 packages frozen, thawed and rinsed or 2 15 oz. cans, rinsed)
1 14.5 can diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon smoked paprika (regular paprika will work, but the smoked paprika adds a nice kick)
½ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
½ teaspoon pepper (adjust to taste)
1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke (adjust to taste)
1 12 fl. Oz. bottle dark beer
Tabasco sauce (to taste)
Coat a large sauté pan with a few sprays of olive oil and heat pan to medium. Sauté the onion for a few minutes until it begins to soften. Add the red pepper, celery, carrots, and hot pepper and stir occasionally for three minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the diced tomatoes with their juice.
Drain the black-eyed peas and add to the pot. Stir in the bay leaf, thyme, smoked paprika, salt and pepper, and Liquid Smoke. Pour in the beer. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the liquid is reduced but there is still some sauce. Remove the bay leaf. Add Tabasco sauce and adjust seasonings to give it the kick you will need to get through 2011 in health and wealth!
Serve over a bed of cooked brown rice with a side of collard greens for extra good luck.