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It's a well-known tradition in the Southeast United States to eat Black-Eyed Peas on New Year's Day. Here is a healthier version that swaps the animal fats that are often used in the recipe with olive oil. 

According to John Egerton's Southern Food: At Home, On the Road, In History, black-eyed peas are associated with a "mystical and mythical power to bring good luck." Black-eyed peas were first cultivated in North Africa and eventually became popular worldwide. They arrived in the U.S in the 17th century as food to feed enslaved people. In Africa, black-eyed peas would have been either boiled and eaten with rice or fried and eaten with rice and fried plantains.

Black-eyed peas are not actually peas, but beans. They are slightly smoky in flavor and are high in protein and fiber. They are not just nutritious but also incredibly delicious.

The below recipe is plant-forward and can be made vegan if desired. We give instructions for stovetop or Instant Pot.

Hoppin' John with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

No one really knows why this recipe for black-eyed peas over rice is called Hoppin' John. Some say an old, hobbled man called hoppin’ John became known for selling peas and rice on the streets of Charleston.  Some food historians think the name derives from a French term for dried peas, “pois pigeons.”

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb dried black-eyed peas
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup of chopped celery
  • 1/2 green frying pepper, chopped (such as Cubanelle)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1.5 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 cups of chicken broth (use vegetable broth to make this dish vegan)
  • 2 cups long-grain rice
  • salt and black pepper (to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
  • hot sauce, to taste (optional)

DIRECTIONS (Stovetop)

  1. Soak the black-eyed peas in water for 8 hours or overnight
  2. In a large pot, sautee the onion, garlic, celery, and pepper in extra virgin olive oil until softened
  3. Add the broth, black-eyed peas, bay leaves, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir and bring to a simmer.
  4. Cook the peas for 45 minutes at a low simmer unit the beans are soft. If the pot gets too dry, add water. 
  5. Taste for seasoning before serving. You can add liquid smoke as a replacement for the smoked meats that are often used in Hoppin John, but we think the smokiness from the paprika does the trick. 
  6. Add hot sauce if desired.
  7. At the end of the cooking, drizzle 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and turn the heat up to a rapid boil. This technique will thicken the soup and make it richer.

DIRECTIONS (Instant Pot)

If you have an Instant Pot or similar pressure cooker, you can skip the soaking of the black-eyed peas. 

  1. Make the rice according to package directions.
  2. Sautee the vegetables in 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  3. Add broth, black-eyed peas, black-eyed peas, bay leaves, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.
  4. Close the lead and turn the knob to close. Select "manual" and pressure cook for 16 minutes. 
  5. Allow the pressure to release naturally for around 10 minutes. Turn the knob to "vent" to release any remaining pressure.
  6. Taste the black-eyed peas and adjust seasons with salt, pepper, liquid smoke or hot sauce.
  7. Serve over rice and enjoy. 

Serve this dish on New Year's Day along with our cornbread, also made with olive oil.  

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