Kale and Tomato Hoppin’ John

hoppin john and corn bread

Growing up, greens and black-eyed peas were as big a part of my New Year’s Day as packing away the Christmas decorations and listening to Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 Year-End Countdown. My family ate them because it was tradition and good luck — and likely because it was an easy dish to pull together after the busy holidays. My version swaps the collards for kale and adds chopped sun-dried tomatoes and a jalapeño to up the flavor. I happened to have a ham hock in my deep freeze, but any cut of pork can be used to season the beans. Or simply top with some crispy bacon just before serving. If eating black-eyed peas for New Year’s is not a custom of yours, you’ll be surprised at how tasty this dish is. It’s too good to save for just one day a year, for sure.

Makes 6 meal-sized servings


  • 2 cups dried black-eyed peas
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, bacon grease or olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium green pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 3 cups chicken broth, use homemade if you’ve got it
  • 1 whole ham hock (can substitute favorite cut of pork or top with bacon just before serving)
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
  • 3 cups fresh kale, chopped into ribbons


  1. Soak black-eyed peas in cool water for at least 6 hours. Rinse before using.
  2. Heat fat in a cast iron Dutch oven or other large pot, over medium-high heat. Add onion, peppers and celery and stir. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften. Add garlic. Cook 1-2 minutes more.
  3. Stir in soaked peas. Then add broth, ham hock, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover the pot. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. After 30 minutes, check the liquid level of the dish and to see if peas are cooked. If too soupy, cook for another 15 minutes with the top off. If too dry, add water or more broth. Cook until the peas are soft and the consistency is like a brothy soup. Also, taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  5. Stir in vinegar, tomatoes and kale. Cook until kale is just wilted.
  6. Serve hot in a bowl or atop a plate of brown rice. Add a wedge of cornbread to complete your meal.