Hoppin’ John

This is a traditional African-American dish eaten on New Year’s Day to bring luck for the coming year (the peas symbolize coins and the greens symbolize paper money). You would typically make it with bacon or a ham hoc — and feel free to use one of those or some smoked turkey — but we’re using smoked paprika to add the smoky flavor without meat. You can buy smoked paprika, also called pimentón, in a jar or tin at the supermarket.

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Hands-on time: 15   |    Total time: 35   |    Makes: 4 Servings


Cutting board
Sharp knife (adult needed)
Measuring spoons
Large pot with lid
Heatproof spatula
Can opener
Measuring cup 


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 unit onion, peeled and chopped
3⁄4 teaspoon salt
3⁄4 pound fresh collard greens, thick stems removed and leaves chopped or frozen collards, thawed
1 teaspoon smoked paprika, if you like
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cup water
1 unit (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas, or 2 cups cooked, drained and rinsed
2 cup cooked brown rice
unit black pepper
unit hot sauce (if you like)


Wash your hands with soap and water, then gather all your kitchen gear and ingredients and put them on a clean counter.

  1. Put the pot on the stove and turn the heat to medium. When the pot is hot, carefully add the oil.

  2. When the oil is hot, add the onion and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and starting to look clear, about 6 or 7 minutes.

  3. Add the collards, smoked paprika, and thyme, and cook until the greens are just wilted, about a minute. Add the water, stir, cover the pot, and cook until the greens are just tender, about 5 to 10 minutes.

  4. Stir in the vinegar, black-eyed peas, and rice. Cover the pot, turn the heat down to low, and cook for 5 minutes. Now taste it. Does it need black pepper? More salt? More vinegar? If so, add it and taste again.

  5. Serve right away, with hot sauce, if you like.