Hoppin’ John Recipe
Hi and happy holiday week! Are you in a cookie coma? If yes, please allow me to revive you with a steaming serving of this healthy Hoppin’ John recipe.
This recipe is sponsored by USA Pulses and Pulse Canada.
A savory, smoky mix of black eyed peas, rice, and greens, Hoppin’ John is a traditional New Year’s Day meal in the South.
It’s also easy to make, richly flavored, and, if you follow this particular healthy vegetarian Hoppin’ John recipe, includes every food group in a single meal.
I’d vaguely heard of the tradition-meets-superstition that eating Hoppin’ John on January 1 brings prosperity in the new year. While I can’t personally vouch that the lore is true (ask me in 2019), I CAN assure you that this easy Hoppin’ John recipe is one you are going to want to eat year-round.
Now, I am not going to pretend that this is a traditional Southern style Hoppin’ John recipe, BUT considering how tasty it turned out, that it’s filled with healthy ingredients, and that it can be on your table in minutes instead of hours, I’m feeling very comfortable with this weeknight adaptation.
For those who would like a more in-depth history of Hoppin’ John, I found a great article in Serious Eats. Here are some of the highlights:
What Does Hoppin’ John Mean?
Hoppin’ John is a simple but rich pea, rice, and pork dish often called Carolina Peas and Rice. While there are several debated meanings of the actual words “Hoppin’ John,” the most commonly accepted explanation is that Hoppin’ John is a corruption of the French phrase pois à pigeon, which means “pigeon peas.” Like much else about Hoppin’ John, however, plenty of people disagree with that idea too.
My conclusion: We will always be debating what Hoppin’ John means. Let’s do so over a shared plate of this fragrant, soul-satisfying meal, shall we?
What Are the Ingredients of Hoppin’ John?
The first Hoppin’ John recipe appeared in The Carolina Housewife in 1857 and called for one pint of rice, one pint of peas, and one pound of bacon. Today, there are many variations of Hoppin’ John, now including this one.
Hoppin’ John is traditionally served with collard greens, whose green color symbolizes wealth. The black eyed peas are symbolic of coins (more good fortune), and an actual coin is sometimes added to the pot.
Today’s Hoppin’ John Recipe
Seeking a Hoppin’ John recipe that would be healthy and weeknight friendly, I took a few departures from the traditional version to create a vegetarian Hoppin’ John that has the spirit of the original but with a shorter prep time and more complete nutritional profile.
- In place of Carolina gold rice, you’ll find whole-grain brown rice.
- Collard greens are swapped for kale, which cooks more quickly.
- Instead of bacon, I used a generous spoonful of smoked paprika, which offers the same addictive, smoky flavor.
- Rather than fuss with soaking dried black eyed peas for hours, I reached for canned black eyed peas instead.
If you aren’t familiar with black eyed peas, New Year’s is the perfect time to get acquainted. In addition to their ties to good fortune, black eyed peas are rich in fiber and protein and are easy to add to all kinds of soups, salads, and, of course, lucky Hoppin’ John.
Despite their name, black eyed peas are not peas at all (tricky!). They belong to a family called “pulses,” a group that includes other stellar healthy ingredients such as chickpeas, lentils, dry peas, and many beans. Adding a few extra servings of pulses to your diet is an effortless, affordable way to increase your nutrient intake.
If you are looking for easy ideas to eat healthier in the new year, check out the USA Pulses’ “Half-Cup Habit” campaign. Participants pledge to add 1/2 cup of pulses to their diet three days a week, a goal that is both delicious and achievable. You can sign up here.
In addition to this vegetarian Hoppin’ John, for more tasty recipes that use pulses, check out my Instant Pot Chili, Stuffed Butternut Squash, and any of these chickpea, black bean, or lentil recipes.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large green bell pepper — diced
- 1 large red bell pepper — diced
- 3 stalks celery
- 4 medium carrots — peeled and diced (about 10 ounces)
- 3 large cloves garlic — minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper — plus additional to taste
- 1 small bunch kale — trimmed and chopped (about 8 ounces)
- 2 cans black-eyed peas — (15 ounce cans) (about 3 1/2 cups), drained and rinsed
- 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes — (14 ounces)
- Prepared brown rice — for serving
- Chopped green onions — optional for serving
Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the red and green bell peppers, celery, carrots, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes.
Stir in the smoked paprika, chili powder, salt, and cayenne. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Working in small handfuls, stir in the kale, stirring after each addition to let it wilt slightly before adding another handful. Cook and stir until you can fit all of the kale in the pot.
Add the black-eyed peas and tomatoes with their juices. Stir and continue to cook until heated through, about 2 additional minutes. Taste and add additional salt or spices as desired. Serve hot with rice and a sprinkle of green onion.
Nutrition InformationAmount per serving (1 (of 6), about 1 1/2 cups with 1/2 prepared brown rice) — Calories: 312, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 608mg, Carbohydrates: 53g, Fiber: 12g, Sugar: 10g, Protein: 12g
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