CRAZY BLONDE VEGETARIAN HOPPIN' JOHN FOR NEW YEAR'S DAY OR ANY DAY!

In the South, we don't take chances.  On New Year's Day, we eat Hoppin' John.  Hoppin' John is a mix of rice, black-eyed peas, bacon and onion and is thought to bring good luck in the year to come.  The black-eyed peas represent coins and the stewed greens that accompany the Hoppin' John represent prosperity.

New Year's Hoppin' John

2 cups fresh or frozen black-eyed peas

3 to 4 cups water

1/4 pound bacon, diced (optional)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 small red onion, diced

1/2 red pepper, cored, seeded, and diced

1 jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded, and diced

1 cup Jasmine Rice

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Freshly ground black pepper

Chopped scallions, for garnish

Place the peas in a saucepan with the water and bring to a low boil over medium heat.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until just tender.

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until golden brown.

In a separate saucepan, heat the olive oil.  Add the onion, bell pepper and jalapeno and cook and stir until the vegetables are tender, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the rice, thyme, and salt and cook and stir until the rice is coated.  Add the broth and stir only once to mix reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Drain the peas and add to the pan with the rice; continue to cook, covered, for another 10 minutes, until all of the liquid is absorbed, the peas are tender, and the rice si fluffy.  Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley, cilantro, and red pepper flakes.  Season with salt and black pepper to taste and serve warm, topped with the scallions and bacon.

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The bacon is cooked on the side so the Hoppin' John can be vegetarian or sprinkled with bacon.

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Here's to luck and prosperity in the New Year!