It was hard to find fresh field peas when I was living in Northern California. In Florida, and the South in general, many varieties of fresh peas are available in the summer.
Conch, or cream peas of the White Acre variety are used here. These are a prized, locally grown pea that is light green in color and without a prominent eye (unlike a black eyed pea, for example).
Field peas are tedious to shell. It requires two, or three pounds of unshelled legumes to yield one pound of ready-to-cook peas. It might take four episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show” to hand shell enough peas to serve at a dinner for four. The shelling process has given me a new appreciation for mechanically shelled peas.
Cooking field peas is simple. The peas are cooked in water or broth and flavored with pork, salt and pepper. Some garlic and onion can be added. The peas need to cook for 1 to 2 hours depending on the variety. They should to be tasted along the way to check for doneness and seasoning. Here conch peas are served as a side dish along roasted chicken and heirloom tomatoes.
- 2 slices thick but bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2” slices
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons of red onion, minced
- 3/4 pound of fresh shelled field peas
- One hand full of snap beans (optional).
- 1 cup packaged low sodium vegetable broth
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Bring 4 quart sauce pan to medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until fat is rendered. Add onion and cook for about 3 minutes or until tender and translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.
- Add peas along with vegetable broth. If needed add additional water to cover the peas by 1 inch. Bring to a boil. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and several grinds of fresh pepper. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and let cook for approximately 2 hours.
- Half way through the cooking process check the seasonings and adjust to taste. Add the snap beans if using.
- After 2 hours check for doneness and adjust seasoning if necessary.