Whether or not you celebrate the holidays eating hearty comfort food that sticks to your ribs is a must during the colder months. And more than that, gathering around the table during times of turmoil, anti-blackness, and political uncertainty is a form of resistance, especially when it is encompasses food that has historical and ancestral significance. It can give us a sense of place, belonging, and home in spite of disorienting circumstances. It also makes us more rooted and grounded in the work that must be done.
These two recipes aspire to create a uncomplicated twist on food that is familiar and storied for many of us that a part of the African diaspora. Try them out with your people or share them as a holiday work party or church potluck. Potlucks and gatherings tend to be tricky if you are Black and/or a person of color AND you don't don't eat meat (or animal products), so be sure to try these soulful, whole food recipes out and let me know what you think in the comments below!
Be nourished this holiday season,
Sistah of The Yam
For me, cornbread goes with fall and colder seasons. In fact, I try to cook it once a week in the dead of winter to pair with my soups, stews, and the like. Now, I know some folks--depending upon region--like their cornbread super sweet while others would say there is nothing sweet about "authentic" cornbread ... so, this recipe is a good in between. I grew up on sweet cornbread but you will notice that the dates add a nice sweetness that isn't too strong (in fact, I like to keep a box of dates on hand in my cupboard to sweet anything from bread, sauces, or smoothies) and preserves a savory flavor as well. For a denser bread, I recommend a heartier flour like oat flour. If you want a lighter and fluffier bread, I would go with an unbleached, all purpose or whole wheat flour.
- 4 dates (pitted)
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 1/2 cups almond milk (or another plant-based milk i.e. cashew, soy, coconut, hemp etc.)
- 1 cup cashews (if possible, raw and unsalted)
- 1 inch ginger root (grated)
- 1 tsp allspice
- 2 cups cornmeal (I prefer my cornbread a little grainier, so I use a "medium course" consistency)
- 2 cups flour (oat or unbleached all purpose flour)
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- Pre-heat the oven for 350 degrees.
- Mix dry ingredients (salt, baking soda, corn meal, flour, allspice) in a large mixing bowl and place to the side.
- Mix apple cider vinegar and almond milk in a separate bowl allowing mixture to sit for 5 minutes (this will allow the milk to curdle and thicken to a similar consistency as animal-based buttermilk!)
- Blend dates (pitted), cashews, milk, and "buttermilk"
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.
- Grate ginger and add it to the mixture.
- Grease a 4x10 baking pan/cast iron griddle seasoned or covered with coconut or olive oil; pour in mixture and cook for 15 minutes.
- Enjoy with some honey*, agave, or cranberry sauce on top!
*Honey is complicated in the vegan world. Although it is technically an animal product, I eat it (mostly raw, unfiltered, and organic) pretty regularly for personal and medicinal reasons. You can always substitute it for agave or maple syrup!
SWEET-N-SPICY HOPPIN' JOHN
Hoppin' John (or Carolina Peas and Rice) is American Southern staple with rich African diasporic cultural and ancestral heritage. It's main ingredient, the black eye pea or cow peas, was originally grown and cultivated in West Africa and was introduced to the US via the slave trade and would later become a significant cash crop in the Carolinas'. Today some form of black eye peas are eaten on New Years Eve as symbol of prosperity. They--like collard greens--are incredibly rich in calcium and are high in folate, protein, fiber, and vitamin A. This recipe is obviously devoid of all things pork, BUT is still packed with nourishment and lots of spicy flavor.
PREP TIME: 10 minutes | COOK TIME: 25-30 minutes | SERVINGS: 5-8
- 1 bunch collards (roughly 15-20 leaves)
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar OR juice from 1/2 squeezed lemon
- 2 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp mild curry powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp honey, agave, or maple syrup
- 1/2 yellow onion (diced)
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 3 gloves of garlic or 1 very large clove (minced)
- 2 15oz cans of black eye peas (rinsed and drained; this reduces almost half of the salt content) OR 4 cups of COOKED dried black eye peas (click here for instructions on preparing
- Sea salt to taste (Note: If using canned beans, I would not recommend adding much additional salt)
- If using dried beans: Place 4 cups of dried peas in 12 cups of water in a large pot; cover and bring to boil for 2-3 minutes. Once boiling, reduce to low heat/simmer; cook for one hour (or until tender). Drain hot water and rinse with cold water; set aside. If using canned beans: Drain canned peas and place in a large bowl. Rinse under cold water for 3-5 minutes or until syrup for the can is completely washed off.
- Wash collards. Discard stems (save these for composting or save them in a bag in your freezer for a future homemade vegetable broth). Cut leaves using the chiffonade method. Stack 5-7 leaves on a cutting board/flat surface. Roll leaves tightly; use your non-cutting hand to stabilize the leaves and your knife-cutting hand to diagonally cut the leaves into slim 1/2 inch strips. Set leaves aside.
- Dice 1/2 yellow onion and mince 3 cloves (or 1 very large) clove of garlic. Add to a large saucepan and cook on medium heat for 3 minutes (or until onions of almost translucent).
- Add honey and mustard to the onions and garlic and stir making sure that the honey and mustard don't burn.
- Add vegetable broth, cayenne pepper, curry powder, and black pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low simmer.
- Add collards; cook them down for 15 minutes (Note: the green color should brighten)
- Add (cooked) black eye peas and apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice); cook for 10 minutes.
- Enjoy as is or served over rice!