Vegetarian Hoppin’ John

Amazingly filling and hearty, and simple too.  Traditionally made on New Years’ in the South to bring good luck, but perfect on any cold winter days.  Leftovers freeze well.  If you can’t find smoked tofu, I imagine this would work well with regular tofu and more liquid smoke, or perhaps regular tofu marinated in liquid smoke.  I think this could probably also be done in a crockpot.

This recipe is based on Mark Bittman’s “Black-Eyed Peas with Smoked Tofu” from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.  I use brown rice and liquid smoke to add extra nutrition and flavor.  I also find that my version takes much less time, but this may vary based on the age and toughness of your black-eyed peas.  Collards are not traditionally used in this dish, but I added them to make this a one-pot meal.

Serves: 6-8
Time: 1-2 hours, largely unattended.

1.5 c dried black-eyed peas, washed, and soaked if you like to speed cooking time.
2 quarts stock or water
14 oz smoked tofu, cut into cubes
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 T minced garlic
1.5 c short-grain brown rice
1 bunch collards, rinsed thoroughly (soak for 2 minutes and rinse) and coarsely chopped
liquid smoke to taste
salt and pepper to taste
tabasco sauce to taste

1) Put peas, stock, tofu, onions, and garlic in a large pot.  Bring to boil, then lower the heat to a slow simmer.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender.  Bittman says this takes 1-2 hours.  I found it took 30-45 minutes.  So watch carefully.
2) When beans are ready or after 45 minutes, whichever comes first, make sure you have at least 3 c liquid in the pot.  If not, add water or stock. Add the rice, salt, pepper, and collards if using.  Cover and cook until rice is ready.
3) If any liquid remains, turn the heat up to high for a few minutes to boil it off.
4) Fluff the Hoppin’ John with a fork.
5) Season with Liquid Smoke and Tabasco to taste.
6) Replace the lid.   Let the dish rest and flavors mingle for 5-15 minutes before serving.

Gingered Sweet Potato Latkes with Wasabi Sour Cream

These latkes have become a family tradition.  I am not a big fan of standard potato latkes (heresy, I know), so I developed these instead.  A food processor really speeds this process along.  Crispy, light, and with a kick of ginger, these latkes will spice up your festival of lights.

Serves: 2 as a main course, 4 as a side.  Easily doubled, tripled, etc.
Time: 40 minutes


1 large sweet potato, grated
1 medium onion, grated
5T cornstarch
4T grated ginger to taste
1t salt
1 c cashews, chopped finely
3-4 eggs, beaten
1/2 c olive oil or more for frying (I like the taste of olive oil, but feel free to use a neutral oil like canola or coconut oil for a sweeter taste).

Wasabi Sour Cream:
1 c sour cream
1 t wasabi powder, or to taste

1) Toss all ingredients except the eggs into a large bowl.
2) Add eggs.  Mixture should be slick and begin to bind together, but should not be soggy.
3) Heat 1/4-1/2 c oil in a skillet over high heat until very hot.
4) Scoop mixture into skillet and flatten into patties.  Fry in batches, turning once, until golden-brown on both sides.  This should take approximately 2-4 minutes per side.
5) Meanwhile, stir together the wasabi powder and sour cream to taste.