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Juneteenth Is Very Special for Us

Happy Juneteenth!

June is a month of reverence for African-Americans, a time to celebrate Juneteenth, the holiday that pays homage to June 19, 1865. On this day, enslaved Africans living in Galveston, Texas, learned from Union soldiers that they were free . . . and had been for a full two years, right after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Widely considered to be African-Americans’ independence day, Juneteenth is a time sent with family and friends-around traditional dishes with their ingredients deeply rooted in the foods brought over during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. These dishes were married with ingredients indigenous to the Americas and what the newly freed slaves were able to gather, grow and harvest.

Here are some of my favorite Juneteenth inspired recipes.


Chef Jenn

Watermelon Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

This recipe celebrates summer with juicy sweet watermelon, crisp watercress, and tart apple cider vinaigrette.

Yields 6 servings

Ingredients: 3 tablespoons sesame seeds ¼ cup Italian parsley leaves ½ cup scallions, sliced ½ cup fresh chervil tops

½ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon honey

6 cups seeded watermelon cubes, about 1- inch in size 3 cups watercress leaves (about 3 large bunches) Directions: In a small dry sauté pan, over low heat, toast the sesame seeds until they are a golden brown; about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve for later.

In a large bowl, add half of the sesame seeds, the parsley, scallions, and chervil, vinegar, oil, salt and honey. Whisk until well combined.

Add the watermelon chunks and gently stir until the watermelon is well coated with the other ingredients.

Divide the watercress between 6 chilled salad plates and place the watermelon salad on top.

Sprinkle with the reserved sesame seeds and any remaining liquid in the bowl.

Serve immediately.

Collard Greens Salad

Switch up your greens with this vibrant version of a Southern favorite.

Yields 6 servings


1 bunch collard greens, washed, about 8 cups

1/2 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

3 cloves raw garlic, minced

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

½ teaspoon black pepper


1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

1 small onion, cut in half and thinly sliced


De-stem the collard green leaves, roll into a tight cylinder, and slice the rolled collard greens into long strips.

Place strips in a large bowl. Pour oil on collard strips and sprinkle on salt. Massage the oil and salt into the strips with your hands until all pieces are well coated, about 5 minutes.

Whisk together apple cider vinegar, garlic, red pepper flakes and ground pepper; pour over the collard green strips. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours, but overnight is best.

Add the garnish of bell pepper and onion right before service.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Black Eyed Pea Salad

Black eyed peas, also know as cow peas have a rich history. Originating in North Africa and introduced to the New World by African slaves- it is considered good luck to eat black eyed peas on the first day of the New Year.

Yields 6 servings


4 cups black eyed peas, cooked and chilled

¼ cup yellow onion, chopped ¼ cup green bell pepper, chopped

¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped


1 clove garlic, minced 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

1 tablespoon honey

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon Sea salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

½ cup apple cider vinegar ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil



Combine the garlic, thyme, honey, red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper and vinegar in a large bowl.

Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.


Add the black eyed peas, onion, red bell pepper, and green bell pepper.

Stir to coat with the vinaigrette.

Chill the Black Eyed Pea Salad for at least 4 hours before serving.

These recipe are courtesy of Field Peas to Foie Gras: Southern Recipes with a French Accent and Dinner Deja Vu: Southern Tonight, French Tomorrow, written by Jennifer Hill Booker, © 2014 and 2017, Pelican Publishing Company, Inc.


Chef Jennifer's

Cooking Tips:


Plan your menu around your grocer's weekly sales ad. Your ingredients will be in stock, in season, and on sale!


Shop, Cook & Eat Seasonally. In-season produce is fresh, inexpensive, and tasty!


Cook Once & Eat Twice. Cook a double batch of dishes like soups, beans and chili-for those days you don't feel like cooking!

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