Veggie Hoppin’ John with Savory Cornbread Waffles

I know what you’re thinking and it’s “where’s the beef?”, and that by “where’s the beef?” you mean “where’s the ham.” Never fear, meatheads, this favorite New Year’s fare from down south is still hearty and smoky, with the (genius if I may) addition of Applewood smoked cheddar cubes right before serving.

This all started with the Great Waffle Drought. I didn’t bring my old waffle maker with me when we headed East, it was a hand-me-down on its last leg and I figured a new one would be easy to come by. Wrong. I kept hoping for one when Mother’s Day and such gift-giving holidays would roll around and kept not getting one, until not giving me one became a kind of running joke that everyone laughed at – except me. At long last, when the dream had faded to a mere vague longing, the Old Man surprised me with a Belgian style kajigger. Out of the blue, too, and for no occasion!

So here I was, gleefully making waffles out of everything to celebrate the non-occasion, when I decided to give a  savory version a go. I needed something to serve alongside them and was mighty low on chili fixings but totally flush in dried black-eyed-peas.


Black-eyed-peas should be soaked overnight in the fridge for bests, but a quick soak (bringing to a rapid boil, cooling and rinsing) will do if you didn’t have a bean hankering yesterday but do today.

mise en place
Mise-en-place (I believe that to be the French term for “s*** I have prepared for cooking) is diced onion, pepper, tomato and smashed garlic.

Meatless Hoppin' John

The onion and peppers get sauteed first, with some salt and pepper and a bay leaf. I kept an eye and my nose on them to make sure the onions were translucent but not brown before adding the peas, garlic, and tomatoes. Once all these were stirred in and the spices were sprinkled atop, I lowered the heat and covered the pan for about 10 minutes or so before adding the liquid (2 cups veggie broth and 4 cups water) and bringing to a simmer. It took about two hours of simmering to cook the beans just right.

Once we got close to serving time, I enlisted a helpy helperson with preparing a fairly simple cornbread mix (recipe follows). We added cheese to all the waffles and fresh seeded and diced jalapenos to half of them and cooked them in our ♥waffle maker♥ on a light setting.

Cornbread helpy helpersonfold in the cheeseJalapeno and Cheese Cornbread Waffles

Right before we served up the stew, we topped each bowl with smoked cheddar cheese cubes so we wouldn’t miss out on the smoky flavor you usually get by adding ham or bacon. The whole meal was fantastic, very filling and comforting, and the savory waffle recipe has already been invited back for dinner.

Print Recipe
Vegetarian Hoppin' John
This meatless take on a hearty southern favorite uses creamy smoked cheddar cheese in place of ham to mimic the richness of the classic dish
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs 15 mins
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs 15 mins
  1. Heat about 2 Tbs olive oil in a large pot and add your diced onions and peppers, salt and pepper
  2. Add Blacked Eyed Peas, Garlic, Tomato, and spices, lower heat and cover for about 10 minutes
  3. Add in Water and Broth and simmer, covered for about 2 hours
  4. Top each portion with smoked cheese cubes immediately before serving
Recipe Notes

*I used Bell Pepper and omitted the Cayenne because my cubs don't always appreciate the heat, but feel free to make it as spicy or mild as you like, or generously sprinkle your own portion with Tapatio like I do

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