More Good Luck Food

Hoppin’ John Risotto – Risotto with Black-Eyed Peas, Ham & Greens

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

I claim no expertise in Southern cooking. My experience is limited to a couple of trips to New Orleans and a meal I enjoyed years ago made by Paul Prudhomme when he brought his kitchen to San Francisco. Nor am I one for “fusion recipes.” But, truth be told, cooks adapt recipes when they move to distant lands, have access to new or different ingredients or to fit personal food preferences.
Thus explains how my interest in New Year’s foods drew my attention to the southern tradition of eating Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day. The black-eyed peas resemble coins and leafy greens ressemble dollar bills – thus offering a wish for prosperity and good luck in the coming year. So, I took typical Hoppin’ John ingredients and adapted them to my style of cooking, making a colorful, healthful risotto following the Italian food traditions I married into.
This recipe can serve a number of “healthy eating” resolutions. Cutting back on meat? Just two ounces of ham per serving lends a rich meaty flavor to this risotto. Working to include more vegetables into your entrees? This recipe calls for bell pepper and kale along with the black-eyed peas. One of my resolutions is to cook dry beans myself rather than buy them canned. Buying in bulk is environmental and economic. You’ll find a more interesting variety of beans to choose from, too. When cooked properly, beans have better texture and flavor than canned. Plus, many cans are lined with BPA which we’ve been told to avoid.
A bounty of beans on hand may nudge you to explore the diverse, ethnic bean recipes from around the world. I plan to use the remaining black-eyed peas in two dishes: a Latin-style bean dip for Super Bowl Sunday and a warm and saucy Indian curry.
If this dish does not bring you prosperity, it may help you launch a habit of serving up good nutrition in delicious ways for 2012.
Make It Convenient to Cook Beans To make the effort worthwhile, use at least a pound of rinsed, sorted beans visit the Bean Institute for 3 methods of soaking beans before cooking.
Nutrition Note: The USDA Choose MyPlate guidelines recommend dry beans for everyone because they are so nutrient-rich, with both soluble and insoluble fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. They can be considered either a “Vegetable” or a “Protein” food in the USDA Food Patterns. The Bean Institute cites research showing that frequent bean consumption is associated with lower serum triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, a lower risk of heart disease, lower body weight and a smaller waist circumference.
A 1/2 cup serving of black-eyed peas (also called cow peas or field peas) contains 26% of the Daily Value (DV) for folate, 3% DV vitamin A, 10% DV potassium and 10% or more of the DV for the following minerals: calcium, magnesium, manganese and 5% or more of the DV for zinc, iron and copper.
Product Note: I used Mixed Baby Kales (in a 1.5 pound bag from Earthbound Farm ® Organic Costco) in this recipe. The little leaves of kale, a powerhouse among foods, can be used like tender, young spinach leaves in stir-fries, sautés and other dishes.
Hoppin’ John Risotto (Risotto with Black Eyed Peas, Ham and Greens)
Brown the ham cubes in a nonstick skillet before adding to the risotto for more flavor. This recipe doesn’t need cheese, but a sprinkle of freshly shredded Parmesan or a aged sharp Cheddar (in keeping with the American theme) won’t hurt.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
1 1/2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
1 cup white wine
3 to 3 1/2 cups sodium-reduced chicken broth
8 ounces lean ham (free of nitrates and nitrites), cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 cups sliced baby kale or spinach leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh lemon thyme or thyme
Heat oil in large wide saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic and crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring often, until onion is soft. Add rice and stir for a few seconds to coat with the oil. Add wine; simmer gently, stirring frequently, until liquid is absorbed. Add broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, and simmer, stirring often, until liquid is absorbed before adding another 1/2 cup of broth. After about 15 minutes, when rice is nearly done, stir in ham, peas and kale. Continue to simmer, adding broth as needed another 3 to 5 minutes or until rice is just tender but still a bit chewy in the center. Remove from heat and stir in thyme. Serve warm. Makes 4 servings.
Copyright © Lorelle S Del Matto 2012
lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.

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