Pass the peas, please!

Published 12:19 am Saturday, August 9, 2014

Our peas are in (Whippoorwill, which Mr. Jefferson grew, and Pinkeye Purple Hull, recommended by Frank Stitt) and it is nice to sit for a little while and just shell the peas. I used to do this as a child and get to watch TV. What a treat. But it was the only way my mother could get us to help her with all those vegetables.

The nice thing about peas is their ease of cooking. Cook in boiling water 1 to 2 minutes and you are done. A good thing to do while peas are plentiful is to buy extra peas either shelled or not and freeze them. From the freezer—no need to thaw—they can be cooked in just a few minutes and retain the flavor and texture of fresh peas.

‘Southern Living’ for August had some good pea recipes. We think of Hoppin’ John for New Year’s Day but these peas were used in a salad for lunch. It was delicious and I have done it two other times. Peas are best cooked with some ham hocks and ‘Southern Living’ tells you how to smoke your own. So while peas are in, enjoy them!


Summer Hoppin’ John Salad

Makes 6 servings

1 medium-size sweet onion, cut into ½-inch slices

1 Tbsp. olive oil

4 cups drained fresh field peas

Apple Cider Vinaigrette (recipe to follow)

1 lb. tomatoes, cut into wedges

2 cups loosely packed mixed salad greens (I use arugula since that is what is in the garden.)

¾ cup chopped assorted fresh herbs (such as flat-leaf parsley, dill, and basil)

1 ½ cups cooked basmati rice, cooled

Brush the onion slices with olive oil; cook in a hot grill pan over medium-high heat about 5 minutes on each side or until grill marks appear. Coarsely chop onion.

Toss together peas, chopped onion, and 3 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinaigrette in a medium bowl. Gently toss together tomatoes, next 2 ingredients, and 3 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinaigrette in another bowl.

Spoon rice onto serving platter; top with tomato mixture and pea mixture. Serve with remaining vinaigrette.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Makes about 2/3 cups

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. spicy brown mustard

1/3 cup olive oil

Whisk together first 4 ingredients; add oil in a slow steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Classic Fresh Field Peas

Makes 4 cups

2 Smoked Ham Hocks

1 ½ cups finely chopped onion

3 Tbsp. bacon drippings

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 cups shelled fresh field peas (about 1 lb.)

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. ground black pepper

Bring hocks and 2 qt. water to a boil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat; simmer 1 ½ to 2 hours or until meat is tender.

Meanwhile, sauté onion in hot drippings in a medium skillet over medium-high heat 6 minutes. Add peas and onion mixture to Dutch oven with ham hocks; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, 45 minutes or until peas are tender. Remove hocks; drain peas, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Remove and chop ham from hock bones; discard bones. Stir ham into peas, if desired.