Good luck is a concept that has been celebrated for centuries. Each new year, cultures around the world prepare their favorite traditional recipes to symbolically create more luck for the year to come.
From longevity and abundance to fertility, progress and fortune, these foods are supersticiously believed to summon all that is good.
So if you, like most of us, could use a bit more good luck for the new year, try adding these 10 especially fortuitious foods to your menu. (Just remember to also avoid walking under any ladders!)
~ Pork ~
Pigs have traditionally symbolized progress in countries like Hungary, Austria, Spain, Cuba and Portugal because they push their snouts forward when foraging for food. Some even say they are incapable of moving backwards. (Wow, imagine what we could do if we modeled ourselves after our Porcine pals!) In honor of the progress-oriented pig, try your hand at this lovely recipe:
Pork Loin with Wine & Herb Gravy
Ingredients1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
2 lb center cut boneless pork loin (or two 1 lb. pork tenderloins)
1 1/4 cups dry white wine (plus a bit more to deglaze pan)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth or stock
1/2 cup heavy cream (or a lighter cream mixed with 2 tsp. cornstarch)
- Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute the garlic, rosemary and sage, stirring, for about one minute. Add the pork loin to the pan, carefully placing it on top of the herbs. Saute the pork for about 5 minutes on each side, then remove it to a plate. Add the wine to the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan. Cook until the smell of the alcohol has disappeared, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Lower the heat under the pan to low-medium heat. Return the pork to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Partially cover with a lid and cook for about 1 1/2 hours (probably less if you're using pork tenderloins), flipping the pork and scraping the bottom of the pan every 20 minutes or so. Keep an eye on it, making sure there continues to be some liquid in the pan. Add 1/4 cup of warm water if necessary.
- When the pork is cooked through (if you want to test with a thermometer, it should be about 150° internal temperaturremove pork to a plate to rest. Meanwhile, increase the heat under the liquid in the pan to medium. If your pan has little liquid, deglaze with a splash of white wine. Stir well to loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Allow to cook until the alcohol smell disappears (about 1-2 minutes). Add the chicken stock. Remove pot from heat and allow to cool in the pot for 20 minutes.
- When the sauce has cooled, add the cream and put the pan back on the stove. Heat gently over medium-low heat, stirring the sauce constantly until it thickens a bit and warms. Avoid boiling. (*If your sauce doesn't thicken up, mix 2 Tbsp. cornstarch with 2 Tbsp. water and add a bit at a time to your sauce until it thickens to your liking.) Taste sauce and add salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.
- Place the resting pork on a cutting board (you can add any accumulated meat juices back to the sauce if you like!). Slice the pork very thinly and place on to a serving platte
- Pour the warm gravy over top.
~ Pomegranate ~
In Turkish culture, the bright red color and powerful antioxidant properties of pomegranates represent good health, fertility and a strong heart. Embrace these benefits for your new year with this delightful recipe:
Sweet & Sticky Pomegranate Chicken
2 pounds chicken wings or legs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup sweet chili sauce
1/3 cup pomegranate juice
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 lime, juiced
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
pomegranate arils for garnish
freshly chopped parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large measuring cup or bowl, mix together chili sauce, pom juice, soy sauce, vinegar, lime juice, brown sugar and garlic.
- Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper, then place in the skillet and sear on each side until deeply golden and brown, about 2 minutes per side. Remove chicken and place on a plate, turning heat in the skillet down to medium-low. Pour in pomegranate juice mix and whisk, allowing the sauce to bubble and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Place chicken back in the skillet and turn and toss to coat. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove chicken and serve with chopped parsley and pomegranate arils.
~ Whole Fish ~
According to Chinese culture, whole fish should be served for the new year, with the head and tail in place to symbolize a good year from start to finish. Ensure abundance the whole year through with this delicious whole fish recipe:
Whole Snapper with Walnut Stuffing
Ingredients2/3 cup walnuts
1/4 cup sunflower kernels
2 tsp ground cumin
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 bunch coriander, stems finely chopped, leaves picked
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp tahini
1 green or red chilli, finely chopped, plus extra, to serve
4 300g whole cleaned silver bream or snapper
brown rice, to serve
Tahini sauce1/2 cup tahini
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup warm water
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Spread walnuts, kernels and cumin evenly on oven tray. Bake 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Cool slightly and chop. In a bowl, combine nut mixture, onion, coriander stems, 1 tablespoon oil, tahini and chilli.
- Increase oven to 200°C. Place an oiled rack over a lined oven tray.
- Pat fish dry inside and out. Score thickest part of flesh, at 2cm intervals, on both sides. Season well. Stuff fish cavity with half nut mixture.
- Place on a rack and sprinkle with the rest of the nuts. Drizzle with remaining oil. Bake 12-15 minutes, until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
- To make sauce, combine tahini and garlic in a bowl. Gradually pour in combined juice and water, stirring until smooth and thick. Season to taste.
- Serve fish scattered with coriander leaves and extra chilli. Drizzle with sauce to serve. Accompany with brown rice.
~ Black-Eyed Peas ~
In the Southern US, black-eyed peas are not only plentiful, but resemble pennies, so they are eaten to represent abundance and wealth in a dish called "Hoppin' John"; try your hand at this tasty Southern recipe below, but just remember, if you eat it on Jan 2, it becomes "Skippin Jenny"!
1 celery stalk, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 small green pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound dried black-eyed peas, about 2 cups
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 heaping teaspoon Cajun seasoning
2 cups long-grain rice
Scallions or green onions for garnish
1. If you are using bacon, cut it into small pieces and cook it slowly in a medium pot over medium-low heat. If you are using a ham hock, heat the oil in the pot. Once the bacon is crispy (or the oil is hot), increase the heat to medium-high and add the celery, onion, and green pepper and sauté until they begin to brown, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, stir well and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
2. Add the black-eyed peas, bay leaf, thyme and Cajun seasoning and cover with 4 cups of water. If you are using the ham hock, add it to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes to an hour, or longer if needed, until the peas are tender (not mushy).
3. While the black-eyed peas are cooking, cook the rice separately according to package instructions.
4. When the peas are tender, strain out the remaining cooking water. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Taste the peas for salt and add more if needed. If using a ham hock, remove it from the pot, pull off the meat, and return the meat to the pot.
Serve the dish either by placing a ladle-full of black-eyed peas over steamed rice, or by mixing the two together in a large bowl. Garnish with chopped green onions. Serve with collard greens, kale, beet or turnip greens.
~ Greens ~
Who wouldn't like more cash for the new year? Well, then stock up on your green leafy veggies! Symbolizing money and fortune, leafy greens like collards, cabbage and kale are eaten on new year's day in Europe and the Americas. Grow the money in your wallet with this scrumptious cabbage recipe:
Caramelized Cabbage & Onions
1 medium white onion
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 head of cabbage
1. Rough dice the onion, and sautee in pan with butter on medium heat.
Cut stem off cabbage, then slice in 1/2″ thick wedges, removing any tough stem parts as you go.
Pull apart cabbage into shreds, toss in pan.
2. Rotate cabbage every 5 minutes or so (it will wilt- not as much as spinach but quite a bit). You want to get some great brown caramelized bits on all the shreds of cabbage, but you don’t want them to burn- so tossing often is key.
3. When the cabbage is a golden color with lots of browned bits, you’re done!
Serve as a side dish for Corned Beef, chicken, or really any dish. The leftovers actually taste better a day later- I re-heat them by quickly sautéing in a pan again.
~ Long Noodles ~
To celebrate the new year in Asian countries, long noodles are typically eaten to signify longevity. But, it's very important that the noodles are not shortened or cut during the preparation, so they are often eaten in various stir-fry dishes. Lengthen your life with this mouth-watering chili-garlic shrimp and noodle stir-fry:
Chili-Garlic Shrimp & Noodle Stir-Fry
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
2 cups shrimp mixture from Chili-Garlic Shrimp with Coconut Rice and Snap Peas
1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
1/3 cup unsalted cashews
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 jalapeño pepper, sliced
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup julienne-cut carrots
1 cup (2-inch pieces) green onions
1 cup sliced red bell pepper
6 ounces baby spinach
1. Boil brown rice noodles until done.
2. Drain; rinse with cold water. Drain.
3. Combine vinegar, soy sauce, honey, fish sauce, and cornstarch; add shrimp mixture from Chili-Garlic Shrimp with Coconut Rice and Snap Peas.
4. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add cashews, crushed garlic cloves, and sliced jalapeño pepper; stir-fry 30 seconds.
5. Remove mixture from pan. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil to pan. Add carrots, green onions, and bell pepper; stir-fry 3 minutes. Add noodles, cashew mixture, shrimp mixture, and spinach; cook 1 1/2 minutes.
~ Round Fruit ~
Sweet, colorful and resembling coins, a variety of round fruits are consumed across the globe on new year's day to summon wealth. In the United States and Europe, 12 pieces of round fruit are eaten to signify the months of the year, whereas in countries like the Philippines, 13 pieces are preferred as this is considered a lucky number. Add to your wealth and health this new year with this flavorful Cantaloupe recipe:
1 cantaloupe - peeled, seeded and cubed
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1. Preheat grill for medium heat.
2. Thread the cantaloupe chunks onto 4 skewers. In a small saucepan, heat butter with honey until melted. Stir in mint. Brush cantaloupe with honey mixture.
3. Lightly oil grate. Grill skewers 4 to 6 minutes, turning to brown all sides. Serve with remaining sauce.
~ Pickled Herring ~
How would you like to ensure a bountiful year ahead? If you lived in Scandinavian countries like Norway and Sweden, and parts of Europe like Germany and Poland, you would eat Herring at the stroke of midnight to do so. Why? Herring are so plentiful in Western Europe that eating them traditionally symbolizes an abundant life. Celebrate a bountiful year with this savory Herring recipe:
Pickled Herring Bites with Herbed Creme Fraiche
1 bunch of summery herbs
80 g (2.8 ounces) Västerbotten cheese
200 g (7 ounces) pickled herring fillets, drained weight
1 lemon, peel and juice
- Choose a really nice flatbread, preferably seasoned.
- Drain 200 g (7 ounces) of pickled herring fillets. Cut into smaller pieces and place on the bread.
- Mix 200 g (7 ounces) of crème fraîche with summery herbs of your choice and grate 80 g (2.8 ounces) of Västerbotten cheese. Place a dollop of the mixture on top of the herring.
- Top with a handful of summery herbs and finely grate lemon peel.
~ Lentils ~
Everyone knows that when you're in Rome, you do as the Romans do! So if you're in Italy on New Year's Day (or just want to feel like you are!), that means you'll be eating a dish called "Cotechino con Lenticchie" aka green lentils with sausage, yum! Italians love these lentils because they absorb water when cooked, which symbolizes a growing fortune. Increase your mean green with this divine Italian recipe:
Italian Sausage with Lentils
1 cup French green lentils
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
3 thyme sprigs
4 Italian sausages
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
salt and pepper
1. Rinse lentils a few times and remove any stones. Cover with boiling water and set aside for 15 minutes, then drain.
2. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil and the onions, carrots, and celery. Cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook for 1 more minute.
3. Add the lentils, chicken stock, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes until lentils are just tender. Add more liquid if necessary.
4. Meanwhile, heat a pan or grill pan over medium heat. Coat with remaining oil and cook the sausages until browned and cooked through.
5. When the lentils are tender, discard the bay leaf and thyme sprigs and stir through the vinegar and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Serve a hearty bowl of lentils topped with sausage.
~ Cornbread ~
If you're from the Southern US, then you'll likely be baking up some delectable cornbread for Jan 1. Its rich golden color is said to summon wealth for the new year, and many people even add extra kernels to it to signify golden nuggets. Try your hand at this heavenly cornbread recipe and don't be surprised if your wealth increases!
2 cups cornmeal OR 1 1/2 cups cornmeal and 1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tbsp sugar (optional)
1 egg (optional)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1. Preheat pan with bacon drippings: Put the bacon drippings in a 9 or 10-inch cast iron skillet and put the skillet into the oven. Then preheat the oven to 400° with the skillet inside. (If you don't have an iron skillet, you can use an uncovered Dutch oven or a metal cake pan.)
2. Make the batter: Whisk together all the dry ingredients (cornmeal, baking soda, salt, sugar if using) in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat the egg (if using) and buttermilk until combined, then mix that into the bowl of dry ingredients. Stir in the melted butter.
3. Pour batter into hot skillet and bake: When the oven is hot, take out the skillet (carefully, as the handle will be hot!). Add the cornbread batter and make sure it is evenly distributed in the skillet. Bake at 400°F for about 20 minutes, or until the edges are beginning to brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.
4. Rest bread in skillet, then serve: Let the bread rest for 10-30 minutes in the skillet before cutting it into wedges and serving.
Do you cook any of them to bring good luck?
Tell us about them here!