Celebrate a new year with twists on traditional favorites

December 30, 2009 

Because of the year's economic woes, many folks are glad to see 2009 go while hoping for better luck in 2010.

Why not hedge your bets on New Year's Day with the traditional Southern good-luck meal of collard greens and black-eyed peas?

A little superstition never hurt anyone.

Tradition has it that collard greens represent folding money so you'll have prosperity in the New Year, and black-eyed peas stand for coins or just for pure luck.

Demand for collard greens peaks on Jan. 1, the biggest collard-eating day of the year. If nothing else, these dishes are easy on the budget and actually good for you. Just go easy on the salt pork or ham, and you've got a low-fat, high-fiber meal.

Black-eyed peas are just one of a dozen varieties of field peas, which also include crowder peas, cow-peas and lady peas. A staple in the Southern diet for more than 300 years, the black-eyed pea originated in Asia and is thought to have been introduced to the United States through the African slave trade.

Hoppin' john -- a dish made with black-eyed peas and rice -- is one of the more popular ways of serving peas and rice, but they also can be combined in salads and soups or simply cooked as a side dish.

In "The African-American Kitchen: Cooking from Our Heritage," Angela Shelf Medearis writes that some say hoppin' john got its name from the tradition of having the children of the family hop around the table once for luck before eating the dish.

Collard Greens and Artichoke Dip

Makes: 8 to 10 servings

4 tablespoons butter

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 shallot, chopped

1⁄4cup all-purpose flour

1 pint heavy whipping cream

2⁄3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1⁄2 cup shredded cheddar

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄4teaspoon pepper

1⁄2 lemon, juiced

Dash hot sauce

Dash Worcestershire sauce

2 (10-ounce) boxes collard greens, thawed and drained

1 (14-ounce) jar artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat.

Add garlic and shallots and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes.

Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute until it reaches a golden blond

color.

Slowly whisk in the cream and turn up heat until it thickens.

Add the cheeses and stir until melted. Add salt, pepper, lemon juice, hot sauce and Worcestershire. Fold in the collard greens and artichoke hearts.

Add mixture to a casserole dish. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.

Serve with baked pita chips.

Recipe from the Food Network's "Down Home with the Neelys"

New Year's Soup

1 (14.5-ounce) can chicken broth (fat-free)

2 (14.5-ounce) cans vegetable broth

2 medium carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, sliced

1⁄2 cup diced onion

1 teaspoon dried sage, crushed

1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed

1⁄2 teaspoon ground red pepper

6 ounces ham, cut into 1⁄2-inch dice

2 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, undrained

3⁄4 cup rice

8-10 ounces frozen chopped collard greens, thawed and drained

Combine chicken broth, vegetable broth, carrots, celery and onion in a large pot.

Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes.

Add seasonings.

Meanwhile, sauté ham in a nonstick skillet.

Add ham, black-eyed peas, rice and greens to broth and vegetables.

Simmer 20 to 30 minutes more, or until rice is cooked.

Serve, or refrigerate and reheat.

Recipe from Carol J.G. Ward

Ham-and-greens Pot Pie with Cornbread Crust

Makes: 8 to 10 servings

POT PIE:

4 cups chopped cooked ham

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups chicken broth

1 (16-ounce) package frozen seasoning blend (onion, bell pepper and celery in the frozen vegetable section of most grocery stores)

1 (16-ounce) package frozen chopped collard greens

1 (16-ounce) can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained

1⁄2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Cornbread crust batter:

1 1⁄2 cups white cornmeal mix

1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon sugar

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 1⁄2 cups buttermilk

to make

CORNBREAD CRUST

Combine first 3 ingredients; make a well in the center. Add eggs and buttermilk, stirring just until moistened.

to assemble

POT PIE

Sauté ham in hot oil over medium-high 5 minutes or until brown. Add flour and cook, stirring often, 1 minute. Add chicken broth, and cook, stirring, 3 minutes or until broth begins to thicken.

Bring mixture to a boil; add seasoning blend and collard greens; return to a boil and cook, stirring often, 15 minutes. Stir in black-eyed peas and crushed red pepper; spoon hot mixture into a greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Pour crust batter over filling mixture. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until cornbread is golden brown and set.

Recipe from Southern Living

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