One of my favorite vegan cookbooks is a hard-to-find slim paperback called Cookin' Southern, Vegetarian Style, by Ann Jackson. The recipes are flawless, everything in it is delicious. Jackson inventively takes vegan ingredients and makes classic Southern dishes, without sacrificing any richness or flavor from the original meat-y versions.
In this recipe, for Black-Eyed Peas and "Fatback," aka Hoppin' John, she creates a marinade for the "fatback" out of tamari, sesame oil and Pick-A-Peppa steak sauce that gives the tofu an unbelievably rich flavor. For those who think that vegan Southern food can't be done well, I urge you to try this book, or Jackson's second book, Heart of the Home.
I'm making the Hoppin' John dish this week for New Year's Day.. black-eyed peas and greens are supposed to bring luck, money and health for the new year. The Evans Farm (next to the Taste Cart) grows their black-eyed peas and collard greens a couple hours north of St. Pete, and I am so looking forward to trying this dish with fresh, local peas. Come visit at the Saturday Morning Market to taste this vegan Hoppin' John, and get your black-eyed peas from hard-working local farmers to spread the luck and wealth in this New Year!
Black-Eyed Peas and "Fatback": Hoppin' John
Recipe by Ann Jackson, from Cookin' Southern, Vegetarian Style
1 pound block of firm tofu
2-3 cups black-eyed peas, washed and picked through
1 white onion, chopped
2 t ketchup (optional)
1/2 t dried savory
1 t salt
Pepper to taste
1/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup water
2 t dry mustard
2 t Pick-a-Peppa sauce (or Worcestershire sauce, A-1, or Perkin’s Steak Sauce)
1-2 cloves garlic
2 T toasted sesame oil
Combine marinade ingredients. Cut the tofu into squares and marinate for at least an hour, the longer the better.
Put the black-eyed peas in a pot with enough water to cover them, bring to a boil, and add the onion, ketchup, and savory. Turn down the heat and let simmer for about 45 minutes. When the peas are half done, add the tofu and the rest of the marinade, the salt and pepper. Continue simmering and stir gently until the peas are soft.
Serve this with hush-puppies or cornbread, collard greens, and boiled potatoes for good luck on New Year’s Day.
From, Cookin’ Southern, Vegetarian Style, by Ann Jackson. Also check out her cookbook, Heart of the Home.