Love & Field Peas, A Summer Romance

Friday, August 5th, 2016

photo by Emily Hall
photo by Emily Hall

I didn’t know, regretfully so, about field peas until I was in my 20’s. My husband grew up in the South. His childhood memories of food largely revolved around his Grandmother’s kitchen. Cracklin’ cornbread, turnip greens, fat back, and sweet tea were just a few constants in his life. Every year his family would plant a summer garden with tomatoes, corn, and field peas. His summer memories recount days of shelling peas and watching Wheel of Fortune. Ah, to be young again!

My first field peas came straight from his Grandmas freezer. One day we were visiting, and she offered him some of her supply. Ben accepted and my culinary education on peas began. He took those peas home (I think they were pink eye purple hulls), cooked them up and served them with some cornbread. I was in love…. with the peas and the man! Henceforth, when we visit the Wheatley farm, I usually try to convince him to raid his Grandma’s pea supply.

Pink eyes peas, crowders peas, zipper peas, lady peas, and butter beans are a few of my favorites. Peas are in fact a labor of love, it takes time to shuck fresh peas from the garden, and that can be half the fun. I may not have been raised in the South, but I now have memories of summertime, shelling peas, and being with the ones I love.

Marinated White Acre Peas with Georgia Peaches & Burrata

Serves 6

To Assemble the Salad
8 cups cooked white acre peas, room temperature
½ cup pot liquor vinaigrette
1 cup of diced sweet peppers, small dice
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon basil, torn
1 tablespoon tarragon, chopped
1 tablespoon chive, chopped
4 oz. of burrata cheese
1 fresh ripe peach, sliced into wedges

In a bowl toss the cooked peas, potlikker vinaigrette, sweet peppers, parley, basil, tarragon, and chives. Check seasoning. Add in the sliced peaches and torn burrata. Enjoy!

Cooking the Peas
Yields 8 cups cooked peas

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium shallot, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 ½ pounds of shelled peas, we used white acre but feel free to substitute
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons kosher salt

In a medium sized pot heat olive oil. Add in the shallot and garlic, cook for 1 minute. Add in the peas, bay leaf and enough water to cover the peas by two inches. Bring to a simmer and cook 35-40 minuets or until peas are tender, but not mushy. Cooking times will vary based on what kind of pea you are using. Add in the salt and let peas cool in liquid until room temperature. Drain the peas and reserve 2 cups of the liquid for the vinaigrette.

Potlikker Vinaigrette
Yields ½ a cup

2 cups reserved potlikker from cooking peas
1 teaspoon Tabasco
2 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil

Over medium heat, reduce the pea liquid until only ½ cup remains. Cool to room temperature. In a bowl mix all ingredients and whisk together. Check seasoning.