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Hoppin’ John Rice Fritters with Collard Green Pesto

Hoppin’ John Rice Fritters with Collard Green Pesto

Serves: 8

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Collard Green Pesto
1 large bunch collard greens
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 cloves garlic
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces andouille sausage, finely diced
1 large shallot, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
3/4 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup cooked black-eyed peas
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons water
2 cups panko bread crumbs


To make the pesto: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is heating, strip the collard greens from the stems, discard stems, and thinly slice the leaves into ribbons. When the water is boiling, add the greens and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Drain the greens in a colander and run under cold water until cool, then dry thoroughly.

Place the greens in the bowl of a food processor. Add the Parmesan, pecans, garlic, lemon zest and lemon juice, and pulse until finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture is smooth and thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the risotto: Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook until the fat has rendered and the sausage has browned, about 5 minutes. Add the shallot, garlic and thyme, and cook until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the rice and cook until the grains turn translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook until it has mostly evaporated, about 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, 1/2 cup at a time, and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is absorbed and rice is just al dente, 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in the peas, Parmesan and butter, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the risotto out onto a baking sheet and refrigerate until completely chilled.

To make the fritters: In a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, heat 2 inches of the vegetable oil to 350 degrees over medium-high heat. Alternatively, heat the oil to 350 degrees in a deep fryer following the manufacturer’s directions. Line a large plate with paper towels.

While the oil is heating, pour the flour into a shallow baking dish and season with salt and pepper. In a second shallow baking dish, whisk together the eggs and water. In a third shallow baking dish, season the bread crumbs with salt and pepper.

Form the cold risotto into golf ball-sized balls. Roll each ball in the seasoned flour. Tap off any excess and then roll in the egg wash. Shake off any excess and roll in the breadcrumbs.

Fry the risotto balls in batches until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain on prepared plate. Repeat with remaining risotto balls. Serve hot with the collard green pesto.

Photo credit: Ramona King

About the recipe

This is a neat way to update the New Year’s Day southern tradition of serving black-eyed peas and collard greens. The risotto would be great on its own, but rolling it into balls, breading them throughly and frying them makes for a great handheld snack.