The field pea is included in Slow Food USA's Ark of Taste, a list featuring foods in danger of being lost and never experienced by future generations.
The field pea holds a place near and dear to my heart. I request a dish of field peas every summer when I visit my parents. My mother is all too happy to oblige with the cooking, and my father with the picking of the peas straight from his garden.
Field peas are traditionally served over rice, but are sometimes eaten with bread. They can be seasoned with ham, tasso, or salt pork. Or, they can be cooked as is for a protein-packed, vegetarian meal.
Fresh field peas are far superior to dried ones, but I had to make do with the remaining package of Camellia field peas that I picked up on my last visit home.
Lucky for me, I'll be heading back home in a few weeks to load up on both fresh and dried field peas. :)
1 lb fresh or dried field peas
2.5 qt water
4 oz tasso, smoked ham, or salt pork (optional; leave out for vegetarian dish)
3 - 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp olive or canola oil
1 1/2 tsp Kitchen Bouquet
1 1/2 tsp worcestershire
10 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves stripped and stems discarded
2 oz fresh chives or green onions
1 tsp Creole seasoning
freshly cracked pepper
Louisiana, Crystal, or Tabasco hot sauce to taste
1) Simmer the beans with the seasoning meat (optional) and 1 tsp salt for 1 hour or until tender. (Fresh beans need less time.)
2) In a small pan, saute' the garlic and onion in the oil.
3) Add the Kitchen Bouquet, worcestershire, thyme, Creole seasoning, a few shakes of hot sauce, and the onion and garlic mixture to the peas.
4) Let simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding water if the peas begin to look dry.
5) Adjust seasonings to taste with salt, pepper, hot sauce, and additional Creole seasoning.
Serve over rice. Best enjoyed with spicy pickled okra!