You’ve still got a day to gather the ingredients for some good luck insurance for the New Year. Eating beans and rice and greens (that last is said to represent folding money) to ring in the new year originated in the south – probably South Carolina – and now the tradition has spread around the country. Not only is it a charming custom, it’s also an utterly delicious meal, made even better by the fact that the dishes are eminently suitable for a party. Serve the Crispy Kale as an appetizer and the Hoppin’ John with a side of corn bread and a sliced tomato and sweet onion salad.


No one knows exactly how the name originated – one theory is that kids were invited in to hop around the table before eating – but Hoppin’ John is plainspoken beans (in this case black-eyed peas) and rice brought to new heights by the addition of smoky ham and bacon. Faster versions of this recipe use canned beans, but if you have the time, the from-scratch black-eyed peas are well worth the effort.

Serves 8 to 10


1 pound dried black-eyed peas

¼ pound chunk of ham or a smoked ham hock

1 onion, quartered

1 celery stalk, cut in chunks

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 bay leaves

¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper


¾ pound bacon, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

2 large onions, chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1½ cups long grain white rice

2 cups chicken broth

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chopped parsley

To make the beans, soak the beans overnight in cold water to cover. Drain and add to a large pot of water with ham, onion, celery, thyme, bay leaves and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until just tender, 30 to 50 minutes.

Drain, reserving cooking liquid. Discard large vegetable chunks and bay leaves. Shred ham and add to beans.

To make the rice, in a large skillet, cook bacon over medium-low heat until brown, about 10 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, and reserve. Add butter to fat in skillet. Add onion, celery, and garlic and cook about 5 minutes. Add half this onion mixture to the cooked beans; put the remaining half in a large saucepan for cooking with the rice. (This can all be made ahead and refrigerated. Reheat gently before proceeding.)

Add rice to the saucepan with cooked onion mixture. Measure chicken broth and bean liquid to make 3 cups and add to rice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer covered until tender, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Return beans to a pot and add some of the reserved liquid; reheat. They should be somewhat soupy. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, layer rice in bottom of a large bowl and spoon beans over. Sprinkle with reserved bacon and parsley.


Pete Wells published this recipe for a crispy kale appetizer in The New York Times a few years ago, and it became an overnight internet sensation. You really will not believe how delicious it is! (Some posts referred to it as “kale crack.”) Any variety of the leafy green will work here – regular curly kale, red Russian kale, or Tuscan, which is also called lacinto or black kale. Serve the kale as an appetizer to be eaten out of hand.

Serves 4 to 6

1 large bunch kale, hardest bottom stems removed

1½-2 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt or kosher salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Dry kale leaves with paper towels very well and cut crosswise into strips about 1 inch wide. Spread out onto two large rimmed baking sheets, drizzle with oil, and toss with hands to coat leaves evenly.

Bake for 10 minutes. Use tongs to redistribute kale on baking sheets, return to oven, and continue to bake until kale is lightly browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Immediately sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

Brooke Dojny is author of “Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides and Salads to Match.” She can be contacted via Facebook at: