Black-Eyed Pea and Greens Casserole with Cornbread Crust

This Southern black-eyed pea and greens casserole with cornbread crust will ensure plenty of prosperity in the New Year! Enjoy it vegetarian or flavor with a little bacon for luck. 

Wow. In just a few short days, we'll be saying goodbye to 2015 and ringing in a new year. Is it just me, or has this year flown by? Or do I say that every year, completely forgetting the speed at which 365 days passes?

How are you feeling about the New Year? I find most people fall into two camps: excitement or dread. Excited for all the opportunities and experiences that await, or dread for the pressure to come up with an epic, life changing resolution, all while coming off a Christmas cookie (or champagne) hangover.

If you fall in the latter group, be sure to check back here on Wednesday, when I'm sharing my strategy for creating a non-resolution that truly can transform your life over the course of a year. But also, please know I'm a huge fan of starting resolutions/non-resolutions somewhere around January 5th or so. Give yourself some time to breathe after the hectic pace of the holiday season. It's hard to think about what's truly important in life when your brain just wants to focus on post-Christmas sales, which sparkly dress to wear on New Years, and sleep.

Let's save that mental energy and instead think about something a little less exhausting - food. Growing up, I don't know if  we had a traditional New Years food, but since Scott and I started dating 10 (!!!) years ago, I've cooked a Southern New Years feast complete with black-eyed peas, greens, cornbread and pork. Down here, we believe black-eyed peas bring prosperity, greens bring money, pork brings progress (because pigs root forward when foraging, obviously), and cornbread brings gold. Apparently, us Southerners are quite focused on getting rich. Whether the meal actually brings riches or not, who knows, but either way you get a tasty feast.

I like to have fun with the tradition, every year creating a new dish with the same basic elements. Since our tastes lean more plant-centric (and also because I have no clue how to cook a pork roast), I like to use a little bacon for flavoring and greens and black eyed peas as the main ingredients. We've done everything from New Years soups to black-eyed pea patties served over a mess of greens!

Last year I made this casserole to share on the blog, but didn't make enough cornbread to cover the top. Whoops! It was so tasty, I had to attempt again! This is kind of like a Southern version of a tamale pie, with a crispy cornbread topping over a casserole of baked greens, black-eyed peas in a molasses-sweetened tomato sauce. I kept it vegetarian this time, but for New Years, I'd flavor the greens and beans with a couple slices of bacon or stir in a little leftover ham from Christmas.


Black-Eyed Pea and Greens Casserole with Cornbread Crust

Serves 6

Feel free to saute 2 slices of chopped bacon with the onions and garlic to flavor (and for luck!).

Ingredients

Filling: 

  • 1 cup dried black-eyed peas
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large bunch collard greens or kale, stemmed and leaves chopped
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 14-ounce can pureed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce

Cornbread Topping:

  • 1½ cups stone-ground cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1½ cups buttermilk or kefir
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Instructions

  1. First, cook the black-eyed peas. If you remember, soak them in a big bowl of water overnight/all day (I never remember). Place peas in a large pot and cover with a couple inches of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer about 1 hour until tender, but not falling apart. Taste a couple to ensure doneness. Drain and set aside until ready to use.
  2. When ready to cook casserole, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large sided skillet on medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and red pepper. Saute until tender, about 5-7 minuets. Add greens and water. Stir, cover and cook 10 minutes until greens are tender. If starting to dry out, add more water. Add tomatoes, molasses, dijon, hot sauce and season with salt and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes. Add black-eyed peas, stir to combine, and pour into large casserole dish. Let sit while you make cornbread topping.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients for the cornbread together. In a medium bowl whisk the egg, buttermilk, and oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Whisk in scallions and parsley. Pour cornbread batter evenly over the casserole, spreading with a spatula to even. Place in the oven and bake 25-30 minutes until topping is browned and cooked through.

More lucky recipes for the new year:

Black Eyed Pea Patties with Hoppin' Collards
Black Eyed Pea Patties with Hoppin' Collards
Collard Green Salad with Beets, Black Eyed Peas and Cornbread Croutons
Collard Green Salad with Beets, Black Eyed Peas and Cornbread Croutons
Cornbread Tomato Salad with Buttermilk-Lime Dressing
Cornbread Tomato Salad with Buttermilk-Lime Dressing

Collard Green Salad with Cornbread Croutons, Beets & Buttermilk Dressing

This collard green salad with cornbread croutons, beets, black-eyed peas, and probiotic rich buttermilk dressing is proof Southern food is more than fried chicken and biscuits! 

I've got a special treat in store for you today - a guest post from my lovely dietetic intern, Sallie Vaughn. We spent a few days together where she got a glimpse into the crazy life of a private practice dietitian/food blogger and a look at all the different career options for dietitians.

When we first met (after my 130 lb Saint Bernard was done pretending to be a lap dog), we chatted about her career goals. She told me as someone who grew up in a small town, she was passionate about people in rural areas live healthier lives. She then told me all about her grandma, or Grom as she calls her, and even shared an article she once wrote all about the healthy lessons she learned from her. Grom sounds like the epitome of a Southern grandma! At ninety years old (I think I got that right - apologies to Grom if I aged you!), she credits her health to savoring food with the family she loves. That's certainly something I can get behind! The dishes she cooked are a great example of how real traditional Southern food can promote health, a fact I love to share with my South Carolina clientele!

Alas, I'll turn it over to Sallie!

Hi! I am Sallie Vaughan, a dietetic intern through South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to write a guest blog post for Rachael. I am soooo excited to share my story with everyone! My blog posts talks about growing up as a child surrounded by southern food and how easy it can be to incorporate traditional southern food into everyday, healthy dishes!

Some of the best memories I can remember as a child were spent sitting around my grandmother’s kitchen table. No matter if it were after church or on a holiday, my grandmother would have a home-cooked meal ready for anyone eager to come to her house. Her kitchen often smelled of warm cornbread right out the oven. On a snowy day, you could find snow ice cream in her freezer and vegetable soup on her stovetop. Homemade chex mix and chocolate covered peanuts would sit in the living room for folks to nibble at before dinner was ready. When it was time to eat, an entire spread of food covered her kitchen table. Nobody was allowed to dig in until she blessed the food!

Gron, as we call her, has a passion for cooking and entertaining family and friends. Her house is where family gathers for all holidays and celebrations. It is rare to find cousins, uncles, and aunts all together without the presence of her good, southern cooking. If you ask anybody in the town, they could tell you how much her chocolate meringue pie is to die for. And I bet they have been invited over to her house for a meal, too! Nobody is a stranger to Gron.

I was the lucky granddaughter, though, because I lived right next door to her for 18 years! When it was just Daddy and I at home while Mama was out of town, we didn’t have to think twice about who was cooking us dinner. We just waited by the house phone until Gron called to invite us over. “Y’all hungry?” she would ask, “well come on over”.

Her kitchen table is where many stories were shared and laughs were heard. It is where we sat for hours upon hours stuffing our face until we couldn’t take another bite. It is where we gathered as one big family. And lastly, it is where my love for food and family originated. It’s no surprise to me that I am pursing a career that revolves around food. Perhaps I could blame Gron for that or thank her. I’ll go with the latter.

Since I grew up on southern food, I know how much of a bad reputation it can get. But, believe it or not, a traditional southern cuisine has great amount of benefits. Unfortunately, you can’t expect to get these benefits from cooking with loads of bacon grease and butter. You can, however, use simple substitutions to make southern food healthy.

Southern Collard Green Salad
Southern Collard Green Salad

Rachael and I spent a day together and created a healthy, southern dish that incorporated many of my grandmother’s favorite ingredients. We created a salad that included collard greens as the base and topped it with beets and black -eyed peas. We used cornbread for croutons and drizzled the salad with buttermilk dressing. Everything was made from scratch - Yum Yum! I told you southern food could be healthy!

Beets were my favorite in this salad because of all the memories I can attach it to. Gron always served beets and I was never a fan as a child. My daddy would lean over and say “you know beets make your eyes pretty, that’s why I’m so pretty”. As a nutrition student, I now know that he mixed up the health benefits of beets and carrots, but beets do have amazing benefits. They contain immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber to keep you full, and potassium/magnesium for nerves, muscles, and organ function.

The other ingredients in our salad offered many rewards, too!

COLLARDS // Provide huge antioxidant benefits. Excellent source of Vitamin K for anti-inflammatory and omega-3 fatty acids.

BLACK EYED PEAS // Our protein source of the salad. High levels of fiber and iron.

CORNBREAD // Corn meal is actually a whole grain! Whole grain=fiber! Calcium, iron, magnesium, B-vitamins, and the list goes on. Rachael and I replaced sugar for honey in the recipe!

BUTTERMILK // Doesn’t contain all the extra fat in store-bought dressings. Buttermilk provides probiotics, healthy bacteria for your gut. Provides calcium, phosphorus, and even protein.

I enjoyed spending the day with Rachael and reminiscing on my childhood. Who knew southern food could be so healthy. The key is cooking from scratch and knowing exactly what is in your food. In today’s world, everyone is so busy and often grab fast food or warm up a frozen meal in the microwave. Instead of eating together at the dinner table, many families sit in front of the television. Food has a huge impact on fueling our body, but it also brings people together for happiness. Just think of all the stories I would have missed out on without Gron’s kitchen table.

Sallie, best wishes to you in all that you do! You are smart and passionate, a surefire recipe for success! Wherever life takes you, I know you'll be inspiring others!

Crispy Cornbread Croutons

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1½ cups stone-ground cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1½ cups organic buttermilk
  • Olive oil spray

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together honey, egg, buttermilk and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Whisk wet ingredients into dry until combined.
  3. When oven is hot, place 1 tablespoon olive oil in an 8-inch cast iron skillet and place skillet in the oven for a minute to warm. Pour batter into hot skillet and place it in the oven. Bake 15 minutes until cornbread is golden and edges have pulled away from the skillet. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  4. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. When cool enough to handle, remove cornbread from the oven and cut into cubes. Spray with olive oil and bake 10 minutes until toasted.

Collard Green Salad with Cornbread, Beets & Buttermilk Dressing

Serves 4

Here are directions for how to roast beets. You could also purchase precooked beets or even pickled beets would be great here.

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of collards, thick stems removed and cut into thin ribbons
  • 4 medium beets, roasted or purchased precooked
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black-eyed peas, from dry or canned
  • Cornbread croutons

Buttermilk Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together collards, beets, and black-eyed peas. Top with cornbread croutons and drizzle with buttermilk dressing.

Easy Jerk Tofu Bowl with Garlicky Collards

Easy Jerk Tofu Bowl with Garlicky Collards

This easy jerk tofu bowl with garlicky collards is an explosion of flavor! Pile brown rice with garlicky sauteed collards, sliced avocado and crispy baked jerk tofu! This vegetarian bowl recipe is easy, quick, and will definitely satisfy your taste buds. Less than 10 ingredients!

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