02/02/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Hoppin' John Recipes And Other Traditional New Year's Dishes

2008 was a rough year, so start the new one right...with a full stomach. Here are some traditional New Year's dishes intended to bring fortune, success, health, and love.

The most traditional of New Year's dishes in the U.S. involes black-eyed peas--as in the legumes, not the band. This New Year's tradition began in the South and eventually spread to other parts of the country. According to Wikipedia the tradition of eating black-eyed peas for good luck dates back to the Civil War.

Union troops, especially in areas targeted by General William Tecumseh Sherman, would typically strip the countryside of all stored food, crops, and livestock and destroy whatever they couldn't carry away. At that time, Northerners considered "field peas" and corn suitable only for animal fodder, and as a result didn't steal or destroy these humble foods. Many Southerners survived as a result of this mistake.

However, these legumes were thought to bring good luck as far back as ancient Egyptian times, and were originally brought to colonial America from Africa.

The most popular way to serve black-eyed peas is in a dish called Hoppin' John. The origin of the name is hotly debated. One story involves children "hoppin'" around the dinner table while they were being served. has a great hoppin' john recipe :

Hoppin' John Recipes:


2 cups dried black-eyed peas
Cold water
1 pound lean slab bacon or 1 pound meaty ham hocks
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups water or chicken broth
2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
Salt and black pepper to taste


Before preparing dried beans, sort through them thoroughly for tiny pebbles or other debris. Soak, rinse, and drain dried black-eyed peas. Place black-eyed peas in a large soup pot over medium-high heat and cover with cold water; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 1 to 2 hours. Drain and rinse beans.

Using the same large soup pot, over medium-high heat, add soaked black-eyed peas, bacon or ham hock, onion, and red pepper. Add water or chicken broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the peas are tender (do not boil as the beans will burst).

Remove bacon or ham hock and cut into bite-size pieces. Return meat to pot. Stir in rice, cover, and cook 20 to 25 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 8 servings

Or try the hoppin' john recipe from Emeril Lagasse:

Emeril Lagasse from the Food Network


* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 large ham hock
* 1 cup onion, chopped
* 1/2 cup celery, chopped
* 1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
* 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
* 1 pound black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and rinsed
* 1 quart chicken stock
* Bay leaf
* 1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves
* Salt, black pepper, and cayenne
* 3 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
* 3 cups steamed white rice


Heat oil in a large soup pot, add the ham hock and sear on all sides for 4 minutes. Add the onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic, cook for 4 minutes. Add the black-eyed peas, stock, bay leaves, thyme, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the peas are creamy and tender, stir occasionally. If the liquid evaporates, add more water or stock. Adjust seasonings, and garnish with green onions. Serve over rice.

Or check out this instructional video:

There are a gazillion other ways to serve black-eyed peas for New Year's. You can make a black-eyed pea salad, a black-eyed pea casserole, even a black-eyed pea falafel with hummus.

Black Eyed Pea Salad


* 2 (15.5 ounce) cans black-eyed peas
* 1 large tomato, chopped
* 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
* 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
* 1/2 red onion, diced
* 1 stalk celery, chopped
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
* 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* salt and pepper to taste


1. In a medium bowl, toss together black-eyed peas, tomato, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, red onion, celery, and parsley.
2. In a small bowl, mix balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss into the vegetables. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator 8 hours, or overnight.

Black Eyed Pea Casserole

1 pint cooked black eyed peas
1/2 pound ground meat
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 can whole kernel corn
1/4 cup chilies
1 large onion, chopped
1 can tomatoes
1/2 cup olives, sliced
1 package corn bread mix
Salt & pepper to taste


Cook peas with bacon drippings. Brown ground beef in small amount of oil, add onions, add peas, and small amount of liquid to ground meat. Add garlic, tomatoes, corn, olives, chilies, salt and pepper to taste.

Pour in casserole dish. Prepare cornbread mix and spread on top. Bake at 400ºF. until cornbread is done.

Black-eyed pea falafel with hummus


* KITCHENAID Electric Stand Mixer
* KITCHENAID Food Grinder Attachment
* 2 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 1/2 cup minced onion
* 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
* 20 saltine crackers, finely crushed
* 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 1 large egg, lightly beaten
* Wax paper
* 1 (10-ounce) container plain hummus
* 1/3 cup drained sun-dried tomatoes in oil
* 1/2 cup canola oil
* Pita bread, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, arugula (optional)


1. Attach food grinder attachment to electric stand mixer according to manufacturer's instructions. Grind peas and next 7 ingredients according to manufacturer's instructions using the coarse grinding plate.

2. Stir together crackers and flour in a small bowl. Stir 1/2 cup cracker mixture and egg into ground pea mixture until well blended. Reserve remaining cracker mixture.

3. Shape pea mixture into 18 (2-inch) cakes (about 1 1/2 tablespoons each), and place on a wax paper-lined jelly-roll pan. Cover and chill 30 minutes to 24 hours.

4. Pulse together hummus and sun-dried tomatoes in a food processor 5 to 6 times or until tomatoes are pureed.

5. Dredge cakes in reserved cracker mixture. Fry cakes, in batches, in hot oil in a large nonstick skillet 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until crisp and golden brown, adding more oil as needed. Drain on paper towels. Serve with hummus mixture and, if desired, pita bread, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, and arugula.

According to, the Japanese eat mochi cakes for luck in the new year. And the Spanish bring in the New Year by eating 12 grapes when the clock strikes midnight in hopes of luck in the new year to come.

Try this mochi cake recipe:

Mochi Cake recipe


* 1 lb mochiko sweet rice flour
* 2 1/2 cups sugar
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
* 3 cups milk
* 5 eggs, beaten
* 2 teaspoons lemon extract
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1 cup flaked coconut


1. Preheat electric oven to 350°F
2. Grease a 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan.
3. In a large bowl, combine mochiko, sugar, and baking powder.
4. Add remaining ingredients; mix well.
5. Pour into prepared pan.
6. Bake for 1 hour; cool.

Italians eat a New Year's dish called cotechino con lenticchie: pork sausage served over lentils. The pork sausage symbolizes abundance because it's rich in fat and the lentils symbolize money because they are shaped like coins and are green in color. Try this cotechino con lenticchie recipe:

Cotechino Con Lenticchie recipe


* 1 pound cotechino
* 1 onion, chopped
* 1 bay leaf
* 8 whole black peppercorns
* 1 sprig fresh thyme
* 7 cups water
* 1 pound dry green lentils
* 1 onions, quartered
* 1 clove garlic
* 1 bay leaf
* 1 large carrot, quartered
* salt and pepper to taste
* 4 cups water
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped

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1. Pierce the cotechino with a fork in several places. In a large pot place the cotechino, chopped onion, 1 bay leaf, peppercorns and thyme. Cover with water and bring all to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 45 to 50 minutes, if using fresh cotechino (for precooked cotechino, simmer for 20 minutes).
2. In a large pot combine the lentils, quartered onion, garlic, bay leaf, carrot and salt and pepper to taste. Cover with the 4 cups of water. Bring all to a boil; cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 40 to 45 minutes or until lentils are soft. Add additional water if necessary.
3. Remove the onion, garlic, bay leaf and carrot; discard. Spoon the lentils into a serving dish, drizzle with olive oil and slice rounds of the cotechino over the top. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve.

Whatever your New Year's tradition may be, bon appetit!

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