Hoppin' John Salad Recipe

When searching for your next winter salad, choose one that highlights seasonal produce in a way that sticks to your ribs. We love this hoppin' john salad from Jessica Rothacker of Heirloom Fresh in Athens, Georgia. Complete with black-eyed peas, savory pork belly, textured Carolina Gold Rice, and leafy collards that get finished with a zippy hot sauce vinaigrette,these signature Southern ingredients come together in a delicious side dish or light meal. 
Start preparing for this recipe a day in advance. The pork belly needs at least four hours to cure, but leaving it overnight allows for more flavor to develop. 

Hoppin' John Salad

Ingredients

For the pork belly:

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup kosher salt

1 tablespoon dried thyme

Bootlikker Hot Sauce¼ cup Bootlikker Jack Hot Sauce

2½ pounds pork belly

For the salad:

1 cup dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight

Carolina Gold Rice½ cup of Carolina Gold Rice

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into several pieces

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 bunch of collards, ribs removed and sliced into ¼ inch strips

¼ cup minced shallot or red onion

½ cup sliced green onions

1 medium carrot, peeled and diced

1 rib of celery, diced

½ cup diced red bell pepper

½ cup diced green bell pepper

1 tablespoon minced parsley

For the vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons honey (TLP recommends AR's Southern Clover Honey) AR's Southern Wildflower clover

1 tablespoon Bootlikker Jack Hot Sauce

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup canola oil or other neutral oil

Directions

  1. Make the pork belly: In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, salt, thyme, and hot sauce. Place pork belly in a casserole dish and rub sugar mixture on both sides. Wrap casserole dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Once meat is marinated, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a roasting pan with foil and rinse sugar mixture off of pork. Pat pork belly dry with paper towels and place it in the roasting pan. Roast until pork reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees, about 40 minutes.
  3. Make the peas: While pork is cooking, drain black-eyed peas and place in a medium sauce pot. Add water to cover by about 1 inch and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the peas are tender but not mushy, about 30 minutes. Drain and allow peas to cool to room temperature.
  4. While the peas cook, bring 3 cups of water and ¼ teaspoon salt to a boil and stir in rice. Bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 12 minutes, then spread rice out on a sheet pan, dot with butter and sprinkle with black pepper. Bake for 5 minutes, then stir and return to oven for another 5 minutes. Set rice aside to cool to room temperature.
Make the vinaigrette: Put vinegar, garlic, mustard, honey, hot sauce, and salt in a blender and process on high until fully combined. While the blender is running, slowly drizzle in the oil, allowing the vinaigrette to emulsify.
Assemble the salad: 
  1. Place collards in a large bowl. Add 1½ tablespoons of vinaigrette and massage the collards for 2 minutes, until the fibers in the leaves begin to break down and the leaves become tender. Add rice, black-eyed peas, shallot, green onions, carrot, celery, bell peppers, and parsley to the bowl and stir to combine.
  2. To serve, cut warm pork belly into 2 x 4-inch rectangles and place on a bed of the hoppin’ john salad. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette.