Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when the last slaves were freed in Texas – two and a half years after President Lincoln outlawed slavery. Though it didn’t become a federal holiday until 2021, Juneteenth celebrations have a long history in the United States. For Krysten Wilkes growing up, it was an annual event that signified the start of summer and a chance to celebrate with her community during a weekend-long festival with music, dancing, and food.
These four southern soul food recipes developed by Cooks with Soul capture a taste of Juneteenth tradition for the Wilkes family that’s easy to recreate with your family.
Black-Eyed Pea Salad
This 10-minute, protein-packed side with celery and ripe summer tomatoes tastes even better the longer it sits. The main ingredient, black-eyed peas, are often included in Juneteenth menus because of their significance as a food native to Africa brought to the U.S. during the slave trade.
This delicious pork loin is a flavorful riff on the barbecue dishes Krysten Wilkes remembers eating on Juneteenth as a child. The easy marinade made with the kick of Creole mustard works to both flavor the meat and create a seared crust that keeps the pork ultra-juicy.
This lemonade with hibiscus tea and two kinds of fresh berries is more than just a cooling refresher. Red colored drinks, symbols of the blood shed during slavery, are a staple of Juneteenth celebrations.
Along with red drinks, red colored foods also represent the violence and lives lost during the slave trade. This Cooks with Soul-ful version of brightly hued red velvet cake is made with cream cheese and sour cream for an ultra-moist crumb.