In the South, it is a New Year’s Day tradition to eat black-eyed peas and collard greens. When I was a kid, I was convinced that this “tradition” was a trick to get me to eat things like black-eyed peas and collard greens. Now, of course, I realize this is one of many New Year’s food traditions designed to bring good luck and money in the coming year. I like both foods more now, anyway, and besides, who am I to buck tradition? They may know something I don’t.
So this year for New Year’s Day dinner, we had a contemporary but rustic menu featuring pan-roasted sausages, swiss chard cooked in bacon and black-eyed pea salad with roasted butternut squash, peppers and goat cheese (recipe from Fresh Every Day by Sara Foster).
I actually reworked the black-eyed pea salad into a soup a couple of nights later, adding some crumbled bacon and serving it with croutons smeared with goat cheese, and I liked it even more. That should just remind me that I usually prefer bean soups over bean salads.
For me, the real hit of the night was greens cooked in bacon. This is a very simple way of cooking any kind of greens, including collards, mustard greens, turnip greens, kale, spinach and chard, which I used. The result is bright green and tasty with a strong (but not overwhelming) flavor of bacon, unlike the way overcooked, mushy, overly meaty greens I remember from my childhood. (It may be heresy, but I do think it’s possible to improve on some Southern recipes.)
Best of all, this is so easy to make that you can eat it much more often than once a year. That is, if you didn’t make a resolution to stop eating foods cooked in bacon fat. Enjoy.
Greens Cooked with Bacon
Time to make: ~30 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
What you need:
- 2 slices bacon
- 2 bunches cooking greens, washed and stems removed
- In a large skillet, fry the bacon until crisp and remove to paper towels to drain.
- Reduce the heat to low.
- Add the greens to the bacon fat, cover and cook over low.
- Stir occasionally and add a tablespoon of water if needed to keep from sticking.
- Remove greens when cooked to desired tenderness, as little as 5 minutes for spinach, up to 25 minutes for tougher greens.
- Top with crumbled bacon and serve.
Inspired by a recipe from Fresh Every Day.