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Hoppin’ John Fritters with Collards and ‘Soysage’

Hoppin’ John fritters with collards and ‘soysage’

So it’s said. Traditionally, for good luck the whole year, we should eat black-eyed peas and rice, hoppin’ John, on New Year’s Day. Maybe I’m a bit superstitious–I always make a point to cook up black-eyes and rice that first day. I figure it can’t hurt. This year I’m turning my black-eyed peas and rice into hoppin’ John fritters, all cornmeal-dusted and pan-fried.

We have to have collards with our hoppin’ John, since they also say eating collard greens means prosperity in the New Year. Hoppin’ John fritters with a side of garlicky collard greens will bring us both luck and wealth in 2015.

Hoppin’ John fritters with collards and ‘soysage’

In the South, where hoppin’ John originates, pork usually flavors black-eyed peas. And on the first of January eating pork brings health for the entire year. It’s said. We want to be healthy next year, right? Therefore, I’m adding a spicy chunky sauce of sausage and tomatoes to these hoppin’ John fritters and greens.

You say, “But, Letty, aren’t the recipes on this blog always vegetarian?” That’s true, and that’s why the sausage in my sauce is vegetarian. The same meatless “sausage” that fooled my father-in-law, who grew up on a farm, when I served him eggs and “soysage.” It looks and tastes real.

Every once in a while, you gotta fake them out. Faux “meat” may be off-putting to some, and I don’t cook with processed soy vegetarian meat substitutes very often. However, my vegetarian logic tells me that soy sausage in place of real pig supports our health for the New Year just as well, likely better.

Hoppin’ John fritters with collards and ‘soysage’

Why do they call rice and black-eyed peas hoppin’ John? Does the hoppin’ have something to do with the bean’s magical musical potential? Whatever. On New Year’s Day we’d better be making these hoppin’ John fritters with collards and “soysage.”

As we head towards 2015, I want to say thank you all for being here with me at Letty’s Kitchen blog. May good luck, excellent health, and ample wealth flow to you easily. I wish for you a year blessed with peace, joy, and love.

*Recipe adapted from black bean cake recipe in The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. My recipe for Black-eyed Peas and Collards includes photos of cutting the collard strands.

More vegetarian hoppin’ John ideas:

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Hoppin’ John fritters with collards and ‘soysage’
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Hoppin’ John Fritters with Collards and ‘Soysage’
You’ll have good luck, prosperity and health in the upcoming year by enjoying this riff on traditional black-eyed peas and rice hoppin’ John. You can make the fritter patties several days ahead and fry them close to serving, while you cook the collards. The sauce can be made well ahead too. Reheat it when ready to serve.
Ingredients
The fritters:
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • Pinch dried sage leaves
  • 1 (15-ounce) cans black eyed peas, or about 1 3/4 cups cooked black-eyed peas
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice (see note)
  • ½ teaspoon Real Salt
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
  • ½ teaspoon liquid smoke , optional (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • Whole wheat pastry flour , for dusting
  • Canola or grapeseed oil
  • Corn meal , for dusting
The sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon canola or grapeseed oil
  • 7 or 8 ounces vegan “soysage” , cut in small chunks (see note)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • ¼ teaspoon honey or agave syrup
  • ½ teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • Real Salt , to taste
The collards:
  • 1 bunch (about 12 ounces) collard greens, stems removed and discarded
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove , minced
  • ½ teaspoon Real Salt
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • Red pepper flakes , as needed
Instructions
The fritters:
  1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium flame. Add the onion and garlic. Cook and stir until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the paprika, oregano, thyme and sage; cook for another minute. Remove from heat.
  2. Drain the beans. Rinse them if you are using canned beans. Add the beans and cooked rice to the onion and garlic. Sprinkle in the salt, parsley, liquid smoke, if using, and the vinegar. With a potato masher or fork, mash everything together well. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  3. If the mixture is warm, chill until it’s cool, about 30 minutes.
  4. Using a cookie scoop or a ¼-cup measure, divide the mixture into eight portions. Form into patties, about ½ inch thick x 2 1/4 inches wide. Lightly dust both sides of the patties with flour. (I used a sieve to sprinkle the flour.) Cover and chill until cold. The fritters can be prepared up to this point and kept in the refrigerator for 2 days.
The sauce:
  1. Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the “soysage” and cook about 10 minutes, until the “meat” takes on a golden color. Using a wooden spoon, break up the pieces as they cook, scraping up the bits that stick to the pan.
  2. Deglaze the pan with the tomatoes. Add the honey, vinegar, oregano and thyme. Taste. Add more salt and herbs if you think the sauce needs a little more. Keep warm.
Cook the fritters and collards:
  1. Drizzle some oil in a large non-stick skillet. Lightly dust both sides of the fritters with corn meal. Fry them over medium heat until they form a golden crust, 10 to 12 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate and keep warm in a 200°F oven. (My fritters all fit in my 12-inch skillet. If your skillet is small, repeat until all of the fritters are cooked.)
  2. Stack the collard leaves on top of each other, with the leaf tips all at the same end. Roll the stack tightly in a long tube and cut into thin ribbons. Starting at the thick end, slice the collards as thinly as possible to make spaghetti like strands. See photos--here.
  3. In a large skillet with a lid, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the collards, minced garlic, and the salt. Pour in ½ cup of water. Cover the skillet. Cook over medium-heat about 15 minutes, until the collards are just tender. Stir in the vinegar and red pepper flakes. Transfer to a colander and drain well. Add more salt and red pepper flakes to taste.
  4. Spread the collards on a warm plate. Arrange the fritters over the collards. Top with the “soysage” and tomatoes. Serve immediately.
Recipe Notes
  • I used half of a package of Gimme Lean ground sausage style by Lightlife. There are other vegetarian sausage-style products out there in the marketplace—you choose. If your diet includes meat, use real ground sausage.
  • Very soft rice mashes best with the black-eyed peas and forms fritters that hold together. Cook the rice with extra water (1 cup: 2 ½ cups), I cooked basmati brown rice in a pressure cooker—the soft rice guarantee.
  • Liquid smoke adds smoke flavor. It’s made with vinegar, molasses and something called “smoke flavor.” Many liquid smokes contain preservatives and corn syrup—check the label.
  • Red wine vinegar flavors the fritters, the sauce and the collards. All three, especially the greens, benefit from the acid addition.

1 comment

  • […] dish (a Southern tradition for bringing in luck for the New Year): hopping john fritters. (Recipe here.) And I listened to some frequency healing music (my new addiction) to add to the aura while […] Reply · 3 January, 2016

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