The Hoppin’ Johnny

I’m breaking from my foodblogging hiatus to share with you the magic of this killer peasant dish. So both years I’ve gone to the Pitchfork Music Festival, I ate this thing every day from the Wishbone stand. It’s so simple, so fresh, and so hearty that I wrote everything down and simply had to make it for myself.

AND it has a good history. The Hopping John is a West African dish popularized in Southern U.S. that many of people eat now on New Years to bring good luck and prosperity. Some said counting the number of peas in a serving predicts the amount of wealth that they will have in the coming year. In a recovered journal from the 19th century,  Frederick Law Olmsted referred to the greatest luxury as an assemblage of peas, bacon, and peppers, referring to this dish. Granted, mine has no bacon because I am a veggie, please enjoy this yummerific filler. Also called Hoppin’ Juan, Skippin’ Jenny, or if you’re a drunk Pitchforker (me), the “Rocking Ronny.”

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1 16 oz. can black eyed peas
1 c. brown or wild rice
1 c. unsalted peanuts
1 large tomato
1 large red pepper
1 c. carrots
1/2 large red onion
1/2 c. cilantro
red wine vinegar
balsamic vinegar
lemon juice
pepper

Firstly, start to cook your brown rice. If you want it to be more like an entree, do more than 1 c. rice, but this was the perfect proportion to everything else in the toss-up.

Once that’s on the stove, drain the beans and rinse them in a colander. Get all that goop off of them, if they were anything like the shitty Kroger brand that I had. On medium heat, toss the beans onto a large frying pan until they’ve dried out. When they’ve lost some of their moisture, throw on the peanuts and toss occasionally while you chop veggies.

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Dice everything else—peppers, carrots, onions, tomatoes, cilantro (rough chop)—and leave it be.

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Once the peanuts and beans have roasted a lil’ (they’ll both soften slightly), throw them into a casserole dish, or whatever you want to store it in. Douse them in balsamic so everything is a little coated. When the rice is done, stir that into the beans n’ nuts, then add the veggies!

Finally, throw the red wine vinegar and lemon juice on the salad. I wish I had measured, but I’m willing to guess between 2-3 T of each. Season with pepper to taste. Enjoy with pita, or better yet, a hoppy beer.

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Happy Summer!

Francisco

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