White Beans w/Tomato Chow Chow

White Beans w/Tomato Chow Chow

Join me in celebrating Juneteenth with more than 30 other Black culinary creators. Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day, signifying the final emancipation of those enslaved in the US announced in 1865. This year, we are celebrating “Freedom Day” by offering a delightful selection of mains, sides, desserts, and refreshing drinks that are perfect for backyard barbecues and summer gatherings with friends and family. Join us in honoring the legacy of progress and freedom by cooking and sharing these recipes. Additionally, you can easily follow each participant by using the hashtag #JuneteenthCookout2023 on Instagram.

My maternal grandmother Theresa had a saying she cherished, repeating it frequently to her eleven children “the smaller the waistline, the longer the lifeline.” Mom, her fourth eldest child used to think her mother recited the refrain because they had so little to eat growing up on their farm in Utica, Mississippi. Now we know that caloric restriction is the only proven method to longevity. With critical assistance from the Indigenous people, African-Americans supplemented their diets with mostly plant-based foods, just like they had in Africa, ensuring their families were healthy as possible. Last year The Pew Research Center reported that African-Americans are more likely to be vegan than others. A vegan version of one of the dishes indicative of those I grew up enjoying is White Beans w/Tomato Chow Chow.

After his wife gave birth to a healthy baby girl, my paternal grandfather decided it was time to move his young family of four out of Dallas. Born in the month of June,1899 in the Sundown Town of Terrell, Texas, my grandfather knew that the sweetness of a young Black girl could be snatched out of her by a whim, at any point, anytime. Although I don’t know the specifics of what occurred, a few of my grandfather’s siblings are labeled “Mulatto” in the 1910 Census despite the fact both of my great-grandparents are Black. The horrors of what Black women in the Diaspora endured has never been properly acknowledged nor addressed. Because Grandfather wanted the best for his only daughter, in 1933 they headed west with California in mind, settling instead for Arizona because something about the town of Tucson felt right. Oh, provide for her he did, sending her to the prestigious Black boarding Nannie Helen Burroughs School 12 years later and Howard University thereafter.

Following the Civil War many African-Americans left the South for the West seeking land and a better quality of life. By the 1930s, some of the Black people living in and around Tucson were the descendants of Buffalo Soldiers who had been based at nearby Ft. Huachuca. The soldiers were given the ignoble duty of fighting the Indigenous people of the region, including one of my heroes Geronimo, to benefit White settlers despite Blacks being excluded from The Homestead Act. Though I was born in Washington D.C. while my father was earning a doctorate also at Howard, we eventually made our way to Tucson where I was reared among many of the same families. Arizona had a few Sundown Towns of its’ own nevertheless Black people endured. My grandfather sold a portion of the land to Del Webb that he developed into one of the nation’s first, large subdivisions, Pueblo Gardens. I still live on homesteaded land with a “Caucasian Only” covenant written in the deed.

My great-grandfather Simon Edwards fought in the Civil War with the 8th United States Colored Heavy Artillery. Formed in Kentucky in 1864, local Whites vehemently objected to Black men being recruited into the armed forces, so much so that they whipped, stripped, beat, shot at, ripped one man’s ear off, and even killed some of these patriots. The White populace were intent upon keeping Black people subservient socially, economically, and politically. I could not in good conscience neglect the legacy of my great-grandfather and the brave men who fought by his side, so that we may enjoy the lives we do today. 

The White Beans w/Tomato Chow Chow is made with White Beans which are synonymous with Great Northern Beans. I’ve always known them as Navy Beans, due to the bean becoming a staple for the Navy during the mid-1800’s. Chow Chow is a traditional African-American probiotic, relish both my grandmothers used to prepare. I serve this vegan dish with Potato Salad, my Light Creamy Coleslaw and if you can’t find fresh catfish, an awesome Pan Fried Mahi Mahi. Happy Juneteenth all! Check out some of the recipes from other Black culinary creators below the recipe card.

Vegan, slow cooked white beans are laden with garlic, herbs and spices then garnished with Tomato Chow Chow and chopped green onions.

White Beans w/Tomato Chow Chow

Summer is near so White Beans w/Tomato Chow Chow should be on the menu. Great for picnics, and cookouts, your vegan guests will rejoice.
Prep Time 8 hours
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 12 hours
Course Entree, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine African American, American
Servings 10


  • 1 Colander
  • 1 Large Pot
  • 1 Paring Knife, sharp
  • 1 Cutting Board
  • 1 Large Wooden Spoon
  • 1 16 ounce Glass Jar with Top I used an Arkansas Glass Container Corporation jar.


Tomato Chow Chow

  • 2 Green Tomatoes – Medium
  • 1 Red Plum Tomato
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp Redmond's Real Salt
  • tsp Allspice, ground
  • tsp Ginger, ground
  • 3 Cloves, whole
  • 3 Pinches Red Pepper Flakes Optional. Add more if you like things spicy.

White Beans

  • 2 cups White Beans Navy Beans or Great Northern Beans may be substituted.
  • 12 cups Water, cold or room temperature
  • 2 Edward & Sons Not Chikn Bouillon Cubes
  • 3 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Celery stalk, minced
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • ½ Olive Oil
  • ½ tbsp Sage, rubbed or crushed
  • ½ tbsp Rosemary, fresh
  • ½ tsp Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
  • ½ tsp Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up Salt
  • ½ tsp Simply Organic All Seasons Salt
  • ½ tsp Cumin Seeds
  • ½ tsp Thyme
  • ¼ tsp Oregano
  • ¼ tsp Basil, dried
  • ¼ tsp Onion Powder
  • Green Onions, chopped Garnish


Tomato Chow Chow

  • Thoroughly clean jar and top. Make sure it is completely dry before using.
  • Chop green and red tomatoes.
  • Mince garlic.
  • Add ⅓ of the tomatoes, garlic, salt, red pepper (if desired) to the jar.
  • Add the ginger.
  • Continue layering the tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper until the jar is almost filled. Stir with a knife or small spoon.
  • Add the cloves to the top so that they may easily be removed prior to eating.
  • Place the lid of the jar on tightly and place on the kitchen counter for 2-3 days. The longer you leave it out of the refrigerator, the higher the probiotic level and greater the tartness.
  • Every 24 hours, twist open the lid slightly to allow air to escape, and immediately re-tighten again. This step prevents the contents of the jar from exploding when it's ready.
  • After the 2 to 3 day period, refrigerate the relish and enjoy on everything including hot dogs, in tuna or chicken salad and on sandwiches.

White Beans

  • Rinse beans in colander making sure to remove discolored beans or other debris.
  • Place in a large pot and cover with the water. (Because the beans will absorb some of the water, but not as much as red beans, make sure there is two inches of water above the beans.)
  • Leave pot on the kitchen counter overnight.
  • After 8+ hours, mince the garlic and celery.
  • Place the pot on one of the larger burners and turn the heat on "High."
  • Add all the remaining ingredients to the pot.
  • Once the pot begins to rapidly boil, turn the heat down to "Low."
  • Place top onto pot and allow to cook for 3½ to 4 hours.
  • Check periodically to ensure the beans aren't burning/sticking.
  • Once an unctuous gravy has formed, the beans are ready.
  • Turn the heat off, remove the bay leaf, top with Chow Chow, the green onions which are a prebiotic, and serve.
  • Be sure to store the leftover in the refrigerator. Pro Tip: The beans can be transformed into an awesome hummus great as a dip or on sandwiches.
Keyword African American Cuisine, African American Recipes, African Heritage Diet, Soul Food, Southern Cooking, Vegan, Vegan Recipes, Vegetarian

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You can find a list of all recipes from the 2023 Juneteenth Virtual Cookout on the Eat the Culture website.

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