Hoppin' John with Okra & tomato Stew

 
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Hoppin' John, meaning peas and rice, is traditionally eaten on new year's for good luck. The addition of greens, usually collards, represents wealth in the new year. I absolutely adore black eyed peas and have always scratched my head as to why we are accustomed to eating them only once a year? Not anymore! And I have merged this classic combination with another dynamic duo: okra and tomatoes. With all of these delicious ingredients mixed with loads of chopped vegetables, herbs, and spices- you are left with a hearty stew that is an authentic representation of the south. This recipe is near and dear to my heart, so I truly hope you enjoy it. 

 

hoppin' john with okra & tomato stew

Makes 10 to 12 servings (or cut in half for 5 to 6)

gluten-free, nut-free, and soy-free

Ingredients

2 cups onion, diced

1 cup celery, diced

1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup olive oil

14 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup cabbage, shredded

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon gluten free tamari*

1 teaspoon vegan sugar

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

2 tsp salt (+ 1 additional at end, to taste)

1 cup diced fresh tomatoes (*reserve some for garnish)

1 can diced tomato (14.5 oz can)

12 cups vegetable broth (no salt)

2 cups shredded kale or collard greens

1.5 cups okra, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces

rice & Garnishes

2 cups white rice

3 cups water

1/2 teaspoon sea salt 

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

pinch of turmeric

pinch of cayenne (optional) 

Green onions

*Reserved chopped tomatoes

Soak the beans

Start by rinsing and sorting out a 1 pound of dried black eyed peas (I recommend Camellia or also Rancho Gordo, they have some really cool varieties of peas.)

Soak them in a bowl covered with a cloth overnight or at least 6 hours. Rinse and set aside or store in the fridge if not being used immediately.*

Next, prep

To start the stew, you will need one large pot. Add 1/4 cup olive oil to the bottom of the pot and put the stove top on medium heat.

Now, sauté your trinity. This would be the celery, bell peppers, and onions.

Sauté this medley until it starts to sweat. Next, the layering of flavors will begin.*

Next, add your cabbage and garlic. Cook for another 6-7 minutes, until the cabbage becomes tender. 

Now it's time to add all of your seasonings. You will want to mix the sautéed veggies and these herbs very well and the cook them all together. This allows the spices to get happy and become united with the vegetable base.

Add all of the seasonings.

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon gluten free tamari

1 teaspoon vegan sugar

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 - 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

2 tsp salt

Add an additional 1/4 cup of olive oil once all the spices are added to help merge all of the flavors together.  Sauté the mixture on the existing medium heat for another 5 minutes, mixing well. 

Now add your broth and peas:

1 cup diced tomatoes (reserve some for garnish, I recommend cherry tomatoes for this soup)

1 can diced tomato (14.5 oz can)

12 cups vegetable broth (no salt)

3 whole bay leaves

Once everything is added, throw in the beans and then bring to a boil. Then reduce it to a simmer.

Cook on very low heat for 1 hour, stirring every so often. 

Final additions:

Now is your time to add salt to taste. I added 1 more tsp of salt. And I found that it was perfect. You may want more, you may want less. It's up to you!*

Once ready to serve, add the final veggies:

2 cups shredded kale or collard greens (optional)

1.5 cups okra, sliced thinly, about 1/3" thick

Once these veggies are added, cover the stew with a lid and cook the okra and/or shredded greens for a good 5 minutes, until they are cooked thoroughly. This allows for the okra to still have a bit of crunch, and not become too soft. If you are serving the stew the next day, I recommend not adding the okra/kale/collards until right before serving them. Otherwise, the soup will get a bit slimy in texture from the okra and the greens will loose their hearty, fresh texture. 

Garnish each bowl with one to two scoops of rice. Sprinkle on sliced green onions and sliced cherry tomatoes. (Now would be the time to sprinkle the last bit of salt I mentioned above.)

Here's how to make the rice. 

2 cups white rice

3 cups water

1/2 teaspoon sea salt 

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

A pinch of turmeric

A pinch of cayenne (optional) 

In a large pan (preferably a cast iron skillet), dry toast the rice on medium heat until just golden brown. Dry toasting means there should be no oil in the pan. A trick here is to watch the rice closely and to keep moving it around with a wooden spoon so that it doesn't burn. After a minute or two, you will notice the rice becomes very fragrant, smelling absolutely outrageous. Keep toasting for about 5-6 minutes.

After toasting, cook the rice according to package instructions or using a rice cooker*.

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do . Please make sure to let me know what you think in the comments below and of course tag me in any pictures you take on the gram! Y'all know where to find me. 

Timothy

Tips

If you are in a pinch, you can do the quick soak method. Here's how to do it: Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add and cook the beans for one minute, then remove the pot from the heat. Cover with a lid and soak for 1 hour. Drain the beans and you are good to go!

When I say 'layering', I basically mean not adding everything at once. My mother first taught me this idea when we're making gumbo together for the first time. The idea is to slowly add spices, herbs and vegetables at the proper time so that textures and flavors can build, creating a more delicious and sophisticated recipe.

I will say that sprinkling a little salt on each serving is a lovely addition so that guests get that kick of saltiness when first biting into the stew. So remember that if you are thinking that the stew may need more salt.

Toasting the rice gives the grain a lovely texture once cooked and a subtle depth of flavor. The other herbs and seasonings gives what ordinarily would be bland rice an opportunity to shine and be just a little bit more tasty than usual, which is precisely what I am all about.

To make this soy-free, use coconut aminos instead of tamari.