Hop Into the New Year

“Best of” lists and top-twelve countdowns litter the airwaves and blogosphere alike, rehashing the highlights of the passing year on an endless loop. 2012, for better or for worse, was a year of pivotal events that will continue to cast a long shadow over the future of many. Even for those living it, the true meanings of those days are hard to take in, to fully appreciate and turn over rationally in one’s mind.

At least on a much smaller scale, it’s safe to say that the successes and celebrations far outnumbered the moments of despair on this little blog, and incredibly, BitterSweet survives to see another year. Still, I’d much rather move forward, onward and upwards, rather than continue to look back. Shouldn’t we start making new memories to rejoice in right away?

New Year’s Eve is one of the few times I allow myself to be superstitious in the least. Adopting the practices of a dozen different cultures, the momentous occasion is typically observed by a day of cleaning, scrubbing the physical grime and digital disorder out of my life. Kagami mochi is prepared and erected in the kitchen, although never eaten. (Our tradition is to set it on fire a week into the new year, but that’s another story.)

What are traditionally lucky foods?

Most importantly, of course, are the first few foods, which must be just as full of symbolic luck as they are flavor. Greens are necessary no matter what the course, promising wealth in the form of monetary greens later. Peas and beans swell when cooked, suggesting prosperity. The combination of the two more directly represent health, because what could be more wholesome than greens and beans? I think you see where I’m going with this.

Hoppin’ John, the southern staple, featuring collard greens, black-eyed peas, and rice, has tons of unfulfilled potential. Typically weighed down with pork but light on spices, through my eyes as an outsider, there seemed to be room for improvement. Turning the dish into a creamy, well-balanced risotto, it can play the role of either a side or the star of the show on any dinner table. Incredibly savory and soothing, it’s the perfect heart-warming and rib-sticking dish for these chilly early January days. Whether it actually brings in luck or not for the new year, anyone should feel lucky enough just to steal a bite.

Yield: Makes 4 - 6 Servings

Hoppin' John Risotto

Hoppin' John Risotto

Turn Hoppin' John into a creamy risotto and it can play the role of either a side or the star of the show on any dinner table. Featuring blackeyed peas and collard greens, it's sure to bring luck and comfort your way.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes


  • 1 Bunch (About 1 Pound) Fresh Collard Greens, Thoroughly Washed and Dried, Stemmed and Chopped
  • 1 14-Ounce Can (1 3/4 Cup) Black-Eyed Peas, Rinsed and Drained
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Vegan Butter or Coconut Oil
  • 4 1/2- 5 Cups Vegetable Stock
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion, Diced
  • 1/2 Medium Red, Orange, or Yellow Bell Pepper, Diced
  • 2 Stalks Celery, Diced
  • 3 - 4 Garlic Cloves, Finely Minced
  • 1 1/2 Cups Sushi Rice*
  • 1/2 Cup Dry White Wine or Water
  • 1/2 Cup Full-Fat Coconut Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Braggs Liquid Aminos or Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Dried Thyme
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 Dried Bay Leaf
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Liquid Smoke
  • Salt and Pepper, to Taste


  1. Begin by prepping all of the vegetables so that it’s a streamlined process to add them all in later. Starting heating the oil and butter or coconut oil in a large stock pot or saucepan over medium heat. Pour the vegetable stock into a separate saucepan and heat over a second burner on medium heat. Keep this covered, just below a simmer at all times.
  2. Add the chopped onion into the large pot, stirring to coat the the hot fat. Sweat and saute for 2 – 4 minutes, until semitransparent and aromatic, before tossing in the bell pepper, celery, and garlic as well. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 5 – 8 minutes to soften all the vegetables, just barely beginning to brown them around the edges. Add in the rice last, stirring well to coat with the oil and vegetable liquid, for about 2 minutes or until somewhat translucent in appearance.
  3. Deglaze the pan by slowly pouring in the wine or water, carefully scraping up any bits that might be stuck to the bottom. Turn down the heat to medium-low. Add in the coconut milk, liquid aminos or soy sauce, nutritional yeast, and all of the remaining herbs and spices. Bring the liquid up to a simmer, and once it has mostly absorbed into the rice, add in 1 cup of the hot stock.
  4. Continue to cook gently, stirring every few minutes to check on the consistency, adding in another 1/2 – 1 cup of the stock as needed. The rice should cook for about 20 – 25 minutes, until tender but creamy. In the final 10 minutes of cooking, incorporate the beans and greens, adding the greens a few handfuls at a time so that they can wilt down and not overflow out of the pot.
  5. Always keep the mixture looking somewhat liquid-y without being soupy; remember, this is not a pilaf where you want dry, distinct grains.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and remove the bay leaf before serving. Enjoy immediately, as the rice will continue to thicken as it cools.


*Purists may cry afoul, but yes, sushi rice is my grain of choice for risotto. Arborio or carnaroli rice are the “authentic” options, but I find sushi rice every bit as creamy, tender, and clean-tasting, not to mention far cheaper.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 373Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 3089mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 8gSugar: 12gProtein: 12g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.


33 thoughts on “Hop Into the New Year

  1. I’m new to your blog! It’s lovely! This is a neat dish! Great pic! I LOVE beans but need to get more into BEP’s…this sounds like it’s right up my alley!

  2. Another beautiful dish, Hannah… and most certainly delicious! I like the use of coconut milk and nutritional yeast for cheezy-creamy flavor. I’d like to try that as a change from my standard soymilky/cashewy approach. But anyway, you had me at collard greens and black-eyed peas. :-)

    p.s. is there really a difference between sushi and aborio rice? I’m far more often at the Asian specialty shop than the Italy-import place, so I usually go with the former.

    1. Sushi and arborio rice are pretty much as close as two unique strains can be, but the difference comes down to the amount of “free starch” each brings to the party. Arborio has slightly more, which makes any excess cooking liquid creamy and luscious, while sushi rice has just enough that the grains are more inclined to stick together. So, while I do recommend using sushi rice for risotto, I wouldn’t be so keen on substituting arborio in maki rolls. ;)

  3. Oh if only I were hosting a NYE party tonight I would surely be serving this! Maybe I”ll convince my mother to come over on New Year’s Day and make it for her. Sounds delicious!

  4. Happy New Year Hannah! That dish looks like something I’d love to start 2013 with. If only I could find collard greens here!

  5. I’ve never heard of Hoppin’ John before, but it sure does look delicious as a risotto with all those collard greens :D It’s interesting that sushi rice is cheaper than arboria rice too, here in Australia sushi rice is at least 2x more expensive. I’ve used sushi rice in a pinch when I ran out of the other and you’re right that sushi rice is just as creamy, I really love quinoa grains for my risottos now too – but that’s more expensive again!

    Beautiful dish and a lovely way to ring in the new year in winter :D I hope you and your family have a beautiful, joy-filled 2013 to help move forward from the harshness of 2012.

  6. Spectacualr! That’s one Hoppin John I can get behind. ;) What a great way to start the year. Wishing you the best of everything in 2013, Hannah–much happiness and more success to you! And maybe we’ll even manage another visit. :D xo

  7. Happy New year Hannah! I love all beans and of course black eyed peas and i love this one pot meal! We cleaned up the kitchen in lateOctober and it is back to the same old mess again.. I think i am going to reorganize everything only when i can have a bigger kitchen:) lets hope that happens in 2013!

  8. Hoppin’ John is awesome! I’ve got some in the fridge ready for me to eat tomorrow as a matter of fact. Black Eyed Peas and collard greens are a fantastic combination in my opinion. I’ve never made risotto before, but yours looks like a good first one to try.

  9. I have never had hoppin’ John but will be remedying that ASAP because this looks scrumptious. As we are ramping up into summer, quick dishes like this that are cooked on the stovetop and that don’t heat up the house in their preparation are the go. We both love risotto and I have tonnes of greenery in the veggie garden at the moment so I think it might be time to cook us up a mess of hoppin’ John ;). Cheers for this tasty nourishing looking recipe Hannah :)

  10. Nice! I’ve made vegetarian Hoppin’ John a number of times but haven’t been completely satisfied, I’ll have to try your take on it. I can see you’ve given it some real flavor. I like your idea of using sushi rice for risotto, I’m much more likely to have that in my cupboard.

  11. I don’t know why but I never seem to find the patience to cook risotto. Looking at how yummy your dish looks I think I should add it to my list, especially now that the year is just beginning and everyone’s all about making lists! Happy New Year by the way, even if I’m a few days late!

  12. amazing risotto recipe!! i love experimenting with comfortable dishes like these!! will make asap!

  13. OH. MY. GOD!!! My sister and I just made this and it was…how can I put it? So damn good that I wanted to SMACK MYSELF because I couldn’t wrap my head around how delicious and simple this is!! I literally had to back away from the table and remove myself from vicinity of this here Hoppin John.

  14. […] Hoppin’ John Risotto: Hannah Kaminsky presents her unique take on a traditional American New Year’s Day dish. Since one of the first few foods eaten on this first day of the year, it “must be just as full of symbolic luck as flavor. Greens are necessary no matter what the course, promising wealth in the form of monetary greens later. Peas and beans swell when cooked, suggesting prosperity. The combination of the two more directly represent health, because what could be more wholesome than greens and beans?” […]

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