December 30th, 2012

Hoppin’ John Bowl With Red Hot Tahini

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Serves 6
Total time: 45 minutes || Active time: 45 minutes

Hoppin' John

I am soooo looking forward to the new year. 2012 was one of those that had me screaming “DO OVER!” Still, I know I have a lot to be grateful for and of course December 31st is the perfect time to reflect on that: family, friends, my home, my cats (ok maybe it was hard not to put “cats” first.) But whether or not the year rocked or sucked, it’s always nice to have a clean slate. And a clean kitchen. So let’s start the year off right, with some black eyed peas!

If you only make beans from scratch once a year, definitely make it New Year’s and definitely make them black-eyed peas. Of course, it’s said that these little legumes bring prosperity when eaten on the New Year, a little Southern custom that’s thought to have Jewish roots as well. But let’s leave the origin arguments to the discussion page on Wikipedia, and get down to what matters…the recipe!

Traditional Hoppin’ John is made with ham hock, but in this vegan version we’ll be using “ham mock” or “sham hock,” or whatever vegan pun you prefer, it’s just a little liquid smoke and bay leaves. Since I’m not really content with a few beans over rice, let’s turn the bean around and prepare a full-on bowl. Lots and lots of steamed greens, red rice and smoky beans, smothered in a sauce that keeps up the Southern Jewish theme; a simple concoction of tahini and Frank’s Red Hot! This stuff is irresistible: spicy, nutty, savory, tangy, garlicky bliss. And to cool things down, a little tomato parsley salad is a welcome burst of freshness. This bowl will definitely start the year off right!

From my kitchen to yours, HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL! Here is to a fabulously prosperous 2013, glowing with peace, love and plenty of tahini.


~For time management purposes, start the rice and simmer the beans at the same time. While those are working away, throw together the sauce and salad. Steam the greens once everything is ready, since they take a matter of minutes and you don’t want to serve cold greens accidentally.

~If you prefer not to make the beans from scratch (for shame),  you can use two 15 oz cans of beans, rinsed and drained. Heat very gently on the stove top or in the microwave, and sprinkle with a little salt and a few drops of liquid smoke.

~Tahini can vary in liquid from brand to brand. Some are very fluid and others are stiff and chunky. I prefer to use the more liquidy brands. Don’t be surprised if you have to add up to 1/2 cup of extra liquid when making the sauce, depending on the kind of tahini you have.

~Collards are probably the most fitting green to serve here, but the ones at my local Whole Foods were looking kind of sad, so I went with beautiful lacinto kale. Collards take about 7 to 10 minutes to steam, and kale only about 5. Simply discard the rough stems, tear leaves into large pieces, place in your steamer, and flip every few minutes using tongs, while checking for doneness. I like a little snap left in my greens, and consider them done when they’re a bright Godzilla green.

~You can definitely make everything but the greens and tomatoes in advance, if you like! The beans taste even better if they have time to absorb the smoke and seasoning overnight and the sauce keeps well in the fridge in a tightly sealed container.


For the Hoppin’ John:
1 1/2 cup dried black eyed peas, soaked in water overnight
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt

For the Red Hot Tahini:
1/2 cup tahini
1/3 cup Louisiana Hot Sauce (like Frank’s Red Hot)
1/4 cup water (plus more as needed)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 clove garlic

For the Tomato Parsley Salad:
2 cups diced tomatoes
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
1 cup finely sliced green onion
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Several dashes fresh black pepper
Dash salt

1 pound steamed greens (I used lacinto kale, see note)
6 cups cooked rice for serving (I used red rice)


Hoppin' John

Make the Hoppin’ John:
Drain the soaked beans, and place them in a 4 quart pot. Submerge in water, with water coming about 2 inches above the beans. Add bay leaves, salt and liquid smoke. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, bring the heat down low, and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Check often so that they don’t overcook. When beans are still firm, turn the heat off and uncover. Let them hang out until everything else is ready. They will continue to cook in the hot water, so turning the heat off ensures that they don’t overcook.

Make the Red Hot Tahini:
Simply blend everything up in a little blender until smooth. A Magic Bullet works perfectly. Add water by the tablespoon to thin as needed. Taste for salt and spiciness.

Make the Tomato Parsley Salad:
Toss all ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. Taste for pepper and vinegar.

Place greens and rice side by side in a large bowl. Top with black-eyed peas. Drizzle with sauce and top with the tomato salad. Serve immediately and prosper!

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