“HOPPING JOHN for Good Luck in the New Year”


I love traditions and food is the perfect way to bring them into our lives.  Many years ago, when I was a very busy, working single mom I cooked many one pot meals that made great left-overs to get me through a few lunches and sometimes even breakfast!  I had heard about the southern dish “Hoppin’ John” and the tradition of eating it on New Year’s day to bring good luck, but the main flavoring was a ham hock or bacon. So how to get that smokey flavor without  meat?  Motivated by that “good luck in the new year” promise, I experimented and came up with 2 smoky ingredients. 

“Secret smoky ingredients!”

 I remembered seeing a bottle of Liquid Smoke in my mom’s kitchen when I was growing up.  It is kind of a magic thing… it smells JUST like smoke in a bottle and that is exactly what it is!  Completely natural, it only contains water and essence of wood smoke… Crazy, right?  It will add a smoky flavor to any dish, even a meatless recipe.  A few years ago, while I was making my Hoppin’ John I tried adding some Smoked Paprika which made it even better.  So here is my current version of Vegetarian/Vegan Hoppin’ John.  This is a filling dish and gets better the next day.  Serve it with your favorite cornbread recipe and some sautéed fresh greens and your new year is bound to be a lucky one! 

“HOPPIN’ JOHN RECIPE for good luck in the New Year”

Serves 4 – 6  (with leftovers hopefully)  INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 ounce bag of dried black-eyed peas
  • 1 cup uncooked rice of your choice (I like Lundberg’s Wild & Brown Rice Blend but any rice will work) + water to cook the rice
  • 1 quart water (to soak black eyed peas)
  • ½ to 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 olive oil
  • 1 -2 onions, chopped
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 medium tomatoes, chopped or 1 16 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1- 2 small fresh hot peppers (poblano, serrano, Anaheim) or small can diced chilis) to your taste
  • 2 tsp Ancho Chili powder
  • 2 TBSP finely chopped fresh basil or 1 Tbs. dried
  • 2 tsps. chopped fresh thyme or ½ dried
  • 1 tsp. Liquid Smoke
  • 2 tsps. Smoked Paprika (not regular paprika)
  • 1 tsp. sea salt (optional)
  • 4 cups fresh greens, washed well and chopped (kale, mustard, collards, chard, etc. or a mix of greens)
  1. IMG_2745
    “Soak the black eyed peas in a big pot of water”


  2. 1.First, soak the black eyed peas in a quart of water overnight, then drain water and cook beans in 1 cup vegetable stock until tender but not mushy (about 45 minutes to 1 hour).  If you forget to soak them overnight, just put them in a large pot of water, bring to a boil then simmer, uncovered for 1 hour. Drain water from pot of peas and add vegetable stock to the pot and cook until tender (about 1 hour).
  3. Start cooking the rice following the directions for the rice of your choice.

    “Cook the rice while black eyed peas are simmering”
  4. In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 12 minutes. Then add the garlic and Smoked Paprika and cook, stirring often, until onions are golden, about 5 minutes. If using fresh tomatoes add those with the fresh or dried basil and thyme plus ½ cup water and let simmer until tomatoes get soft and juicy, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the cooked beans with all the liquid to the dutch oven ingredients and stir until mixed well. Adjust the seasonings, adding more if necessary.
  6. IMG_2769
    ” Saute the mixed greens in a bit of garlic-infused olive oil”

    Rinse and chop the greens.  Add 1 TBSP of olive oil to a large saute pan or wok and heat for a minute. Add the greens to the hot oil and toss to cook evenly.  They only take a few minutes to cook, so you can do this while the black eyed pea mixture is simmering.

  7. You can add the cooked rice to the black eyed peas or serve them side by side in a bowl with the greens on top and a BIG slab of your favorite cornbread. This is real comfort food for the New Year ♥ 🙂IMG_2782

NOTE:  It seems to me you could also cook this dish in a crockpot after you saute the onions and garlic and tomatoes. Just add the soaked, drained black eyed peas plus all the other ingredients, except the rice and greens and cook until done.  I would cook the rice and greens separately since they have different cooking times, but you could experiment and put it all together and see what happens! 



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