Hopping John – Flavorful Rice and Black-Eyed Peas

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Hopping JohnLentils and legumes with their coin like shape are considered good luck symbols and are often included as a part of a New Year’s menu in many parts of the world.

Here in the United Stated particularly in the Southern United stated, there is also an association of good luck with black eyes peas, particularly when served with collard greens. The greens are symbolic of the color of money, and the black eyed peas are enjoyed in a dish called Hoppin John.I have to confess, for anyone interested in trying out this dish, they are indeed lucky that I am persistent in researching a dish before making it my own.

The origins of the Hoppin John and similar Southern dishes, is based in the tradition of Senegalese cooking and through years of trial and adaptation have lost some of their deep flavors and rich taste. Rice and beans, unless it is a deep rooted part of your heritage can go very very wrong as you can read here.

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After some trial and error, I have actually ditched all meat based products to create a dish that is flavorful, delicate and if served with love and affection will indeed convince you that this year you shall be lucky with or without money. My secret ingredient is that I do, in fact, cook my black eyed peas from the scratch and save some of the simmering liquid, and use it for cooking my rice dish, keeping the dish totally vegetarian.

Here is a light and lively recipe for the collard greens as well, if you are looking for that green pairing. Of course, to maximize the green, I garnish my variation of Hopping John with finely chopped green onions. New Year’s or otherwise add this dish to your table and you are bound to feel well nourished on a cold day.

Hopping John – Flavorful Rice and Black-Eyed Peas

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

A lighter vegetarian version of Hoppin John, a classic recipe from Southern Kitchens.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium sized onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 or 2 ribs of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 cup of white rice (I used Basmati rice, which will give this recipe a very delicate and elegant finish)
  • 21/2 cups of stock or water
  • ¾ cup of cooked black eyed peas
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (optional)
  • Chopped Green Onions to finish

Instructions

  1. In a pot with a tight fitting lid, add in the olive oil and the butter and heat until the butter is melted.
  2. Add in the onion, garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion softens considerably and begins to turn pale golden.
  3. Add in the celery and the carrot and stir well.
  4. Stir in the rice and mix well. Add in the stock or the water and the cup of black eyed peas.
  5. Add in the salt and the pepper and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover and cook the rice for 18 minutes (please note, this time works for the basmati rice, for other rice varieties allow a few more minutes, essentially the rice should be soft and all the water should be absorbed)
  6. Let the rice rest for about 10 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the rice. Sprinkle with the red vinegar if using and garnish with the green onions if using.
  7. Notes: If you are cooking the black eyed peas yourself, please save the cooking liquid and add in to the rice, in lieu of the stock or water.
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About Author

Rinku Bhattacharya, the Spices & Seasons blogger, loves meshing seasonal produce with fresh spices. Most of her recipes are inspired by her Indian heritage, and her cooking is practical, easy and well suited for a busy lifestyle on the go. As a mother with two young children, her recipes are also usually balanced and kid-friendly. Rinku is the author of the blog, Spice Chronicles (formerly,Cooking in Westchester), where she shares her life experiences and original recipes. Rinku is blessed with a gardener husband, who always surprises her with a prolific and fresh supply of produce to keep her creative instincts flowing. Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past nine years. Rinku is the author of two cookbooks: The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles an award winning (Gourmand 2013) cookbook that highlights culture, memories and recipes from her childhood transformed where needed for her Lohud kitchen and Spices and Seasons that marries Indian flavors with local and seasonal produce. Rinku can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and is also a contributor for Zester Daily.

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