I discovered hoppin’ John while in Texas, along with nachos, chess pies, Texas toasts, fajitas and of course smoked meats and BBQs. Hoppin’ John is made on New Year’s day and is supposed to bring good luck. The dish contains black-eyed peas and some greens which symbolize financial prosperity.
Lebanese folks are part of the immigrant landscape of the South and this is a Lebanese-flavored hoppin’ John.
I incorporated cilantro pesto which brings a boost of flavor. I added some prosciutto at the end, for the delicate saltiness and subtle flavor (instead of the traditional ham hock).
INGREDIENTS: For 8 to 12 servings
- 2 cans of black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed.
- 1 1/2 cup of Basmati rice, soaked in water for 30 minutes then boiled till cooked.
- 2 cups of frozen chopped spinach (or any other greens), defrosted and drained well.
- 2 Tablespoons of mashed garlic (mashed in a mortar with a pinch of salt).
- 1 cilantro bunch (about 2 ounces), stems chopped off and leaves chopped fine.
- Olive oil, as needed
- 1 medium white onion, chopped.
- A few slices of prosciutto, sliced to get slivers (optional).
- A few lemon quarters (optional)
- salt, pepper, other seasonings could include celery salt, paprika, a dash of turmeric
- Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a pot. Add the chopped onion and fry till golden; add the mashed garlic and cilantro, a tablespoon of oil if needed and stir to get the ingredients well mixed; the paste should be fragrant after 30 seconds. Add the spinach and stir to incorporate. Add the black-eyed peas and stir.
- Add the boiled and drained rice and stir to incorporate; season the mixture. Add the sliced prosciutto and a squeeze of lemon and serve warm.
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