The South agrees that black-eyed peas are required eating for good luck in the New Year, but there’s variation in the region about which greens are best for shoring up your chances for prosperity. Do you cook up a mess o’ collards, a pot of mustards or is cabbage front and center on your New Year’s Day plate? Louisiana leans toward cabbage – displays holding huge heads of Savoy alongside dried Camellia brand black-eyed peas and boxes of Jiffy corn bread mix are fixtures in local supermarkets. I love cabbage, and this New Year’s at our house, it takes the form of coleslaw with a homemade orange-celery seed dressing.
But my family likes other greens, too, and I can’t get away with keeping them off the January 1 menu. This year, it’s mustard greens. They’ve found their way into a variation on tomatoes Provençal. No, it’s not exactly tomato season, but I did find hothouse tomatoes from a regional farm in one of my favorite local grocery stores. Using Julia Child’s recipe as a springboard, I combined fresh white breadcrumbs with slivered and sautéed greens and a little grated Parmesan cheese. Here’s how:
New Year’s Day Tomatoes Provençal
1 strip bacon, diced
2 cups chopped mustard greens (wash and remove thick stems before chopping)
3 medium tomatoes
1 1/2 fresh white breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
Olive oil for drizzling
Preheat oven to 400. Slice tomatoes in half and carefully scoop out pulp. Season inside with salt and pepper and invert to allow remaining liquid to drain. In a medium to large skillet, render bacon pieces until crisp. Remove bacon from skillet, leaving behind about 1/2 teaspoon rendered fat. Place bacon on paper towels to drain. While pan is still hot, sauté greens in fat for about three minutes. In a medium bowl, toss bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, bacon, salt and greens. Combine thoroughly, then fill each tomato half with mixture. Bake for 20 minutes or until nicely browned.