While visiting the State of Georgia recently, I came across a bag of Sea Island Red peas. Intrigued, I went on the hunt to discover more about the beans and their possible uses. The packaging suggested that early uses included Reezy Peazy, which is similar to Hoppin’ John. It took me a while to find a recipe for Hoppin’ John that I liked. Going through my cookbook library one day, I found this little, plastic spined cookbook The Beaufort Cookbook. A wonderful cookbook that held a treasure trove of recipes from the Carolinas. Published in 1965, the cookbook is filled with traditional recipes including ones that feature the red beans. The beans are full of flavor and nutrition. Once cooked, they have a creamy texture which makes them very versatile— I even used them in a popular chilly recipe.
Hoppin' John is not only tasty, but it's quintessentially southerners well. To elevate the taste, I added my twist by incorporating a Brussels sprout salad on top. Although unconventional, these flavors work really well together. Another twist from the traditional, I opted to use keshk in the salad dressing.
Keshk is traditionally used as a base for many recipes in Lebanon and throughout the Middle East. You can purchase Keshk from Amazon ( link to purchase) or any local Middle Eastern grocery store. Its a fermented dairy based product that is made by combining cracked wheat with milk or yogurt and left to ferment in jar for about 9 days. The result is a thick cheese like consistency that is either made into balls and preserved in olive oil or spread on cloth and left to dry in the sun then made into powder. Keshk is often used to make soup or as a topping for flat bread. It’s definitely a very traditional product. I often use it to make soup, but for this recipe, I felt like using it as a creamy base for the salad dressing. I really have to say, it was a nice addition.
1 cup dried red peas ( link to purchase)
1 bay leaf
6 cups of water
2 strips of bacon
1 shallot, minced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 strips of bacon
1/2 cup jasmine rice, washed and set aside
Salt and pepper
Yields: serving for 6
Prep Time: 1 day in advance to soak the beans. 20 minuets on the day of cooking.
Cook Time: 2 hours
The day before you want to make the Hoppin’ John, place the beans in a bowl and cover with water.
When ready to use, drain and place in a saucepan with 4 cups of water and the bay leaf.
Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan and let the beans simmer until tender about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Always check to make sure you don’t need to add more water.
In a dutch oven, cook the bacon with shallots.
Add carrots, celery and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
Add the rice.
Finally, the cooked beans with its cooking liquid and 1-2 cups more water to the Dutch oven. Cover and allow the mixture to cook on low heat for 45- 50 minutes.
While the beans and rice are cooking, make the Brussel Sprout salad.
Keshk Dressing: (makes 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon Keshk powder
Juice of 2 lemons and zest
1/4 cup olive oil
In a bowl, mix all the ingredients. Set aside
Brussel Sprout Salad:
10 Brussel Sprouts
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Crispy bacon for garnish
Slice the Brussel Sprouts and set in a bowl.
Add the walnuts and the parmesan.
Add the Keshk dressing. Toss and garnish with bacon.
To serve, in a bowl, scoop the Hoppin’ John. Top with the Brussel Sprout salad.