Vegan Hoppin' John
This was a recipe I never really intended to share here on the blog. This version of it honestly came from spur-of-the-moment necessity, and really the only reason I’m posting it is because when I shared the pictures on my social media, everyone started asking for it. Here’s the story…
My immediate family is split up between here and Alaska, my parents still residing in The Last Frontier, and my son, brother and I living together here in Arizona. We are a very close family, so we have a group text that basically goes all day long (and generally into the night) where we keep each other updated on what’s going on in our lives that day. Some may think that’s weird, but it helps us stay connected across the miles. As I said, we are very close and wouldn’t have it any other way.
One day, my brother sent us a message saying that he forgot that it was a potluck day at his day job (he’s also an author-so good!) and that he was supposed to have brought a dish from his culture to share. So me being the amazing big sister that I am (lol), I told him that I would make a dish and drop it off to him. I had no idea what I was going to make!
I only had a few hours to put something together, so my brain started turning. I came to the conclusion that an old Southern favorite, Hoppin’ John, would be a delicious and quick dish to make since I could use some (gasp!) canned ingredients. So I rushed to the grocery store to get what I needed. This is a simple dish but still really full of flavor, and one that brings back fond memories for me.
Eating Hoppin’ John is a New Year’s tradition for good luck in Southern households. I can’t remember one where we didn’t have it. Given that my family is originally from the South (North Carolina-mom’s side and Alabama-dad’s side), black eyed peas were pretty much a staple at Sunday dinner at my Granny’s house. I remember helping her pick out the bad peas in the bag before cooking them and the amazing smells that filled her home along with the fried chicken, greens from her garden, pig’s feet (hey, don’t knock it til’ you’ve tried it…and no I don’t eat them now!), corn bread and all the other deliciousness. Just thinking about it takes me back to those beautiful times.
Here’s a little excerpt on the history of Hoppin’ John from History.com
The first recipes for Hoppin’ John appear in cookbooks that date back to the 1840s, although the mixture of dried peas, rice and pork was made by Southern slaves long before then. It seems to have originated in the Low Country of South Carolina, an area where plantation owners searched long and hard for a crop that would flourish in the hot, muggy weather. Rice grew well in the river deltas, so it was a natural choice, but the white farmers had no real experience with cultivating rice on a large scale. Enter the slave trade and enslaved West Africans who had grown rice for generations.
Although any type of dried peas can be used for Hoppin’ John, the black-eyed pea is the most traditional. This pea happens to have been domesticated in West Africa…
Traditionally, Hoppin’ John is made with black-eyed peas, pork (sometimes swapped out for smoked turkey thighs) and served with white rice-also often accompanied by corn bread and collard greens of course (at which point you might as well throw in the fried chicken too, right??? I mean, if we’re really being authentic! Hahaha!)
I’ve created a vegan version that is still full of flavor and has been a big hit every time I’ve served it-my brother’s office definitely loved it! Big Sister to the rescue! (lol)
It’s usually a little different every time I make it, because when I’m cooking for my family of course I never use measurements and I like to mix it up in terms of seasoning, especially depending on what I’m serving it with. It goes great with my Golden Cornbread from Scratch. Read on below for the simple recipe!
4-15.5 oz. cans of black eyed peas
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped (you can sub a can of drained diced tomatoes)
1 bunch celery, chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, chopped (optional)
5 cloves of garlic, minced
Half a yellow onion, sliced or chopped
Cilantro leaves, chopped
Green onions, chopped (reserve some to top the finished dish)
Creole seasoning, cinnamon, nutmeg, oregano, garlic powder, black pepper, sea salt to taste
Pour black eyed peas and the liquid from half of the cans in to a large pot on medium heat.
Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan or skillet on medium high heat. Add onions, bell peppers, garlic, and jalapeno peppers if you’re using them. Sautee until the veggies are soft and fragrant. Add the tomato and let simmer until slightly reduced.
Add the veggie mix and seasonings to the black eyed peas, simmer on medium heat until the liquid has reduced and the peas are soft.
Serve with rice (I normally use brown as a healthier swap), corn bread and collard greens for a dish that’s full of both flavor and history!
You might also be interested in reading about my experience leading the yoga session at ICTC’s 9th Black Midwives and Healers Conference in Portland, Oregon or my recipe for Mashed Potato Bowls using leftovers.
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