Did you wonder where the name came from? Me too, so I looked it up on Wikipedia. And, according to this all knowing source, “By the 1600s and 1700s it had become popular to eat peas "green", that is, while they are immature and right after they are picked. This was especially true in France and England, where the eating of green peas was said to be "both a fashion and a madness". New cultivars of peas were developed by the English during this time which became known as garden peas and English peas.”
When I was a child, we never said green peas. It was always English peas. In the late winter and early spring, my mother would cook the English peas in water in one pot, and cook peeled new potatoes in another pot. When the peas were done, she added the cooked potatoes and then she made a slurry of milk and flour and poured it through a strainer into the cooked peas and potatoes. She cooked the mixture gently so that the flour could thicken the liquid. I can remember to this day that it was one of the dishes that I looked forward to the most for Sunday dinner. As many times as I’ve tried, I just haven’t been able to make it like she did. But, I still try because I love that dish.
I like the recipe below. It’s an unusual mix of textures and flavors mixed with the English peas. Hope you enjoy it.
English Peas with Lemon & Capers
1 pound petite English peas
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 small lemon, juiced
Cook the peas in a small amount of water with salt to taste, until peas are very tender.
Drain the peas. In a medium skillet, melt the butter with the olive oil. Let the butter start to sizzle and then put in the drained capers. Stir the capers and cook until they start to get brown. This will give them texture. Add the juice of the lemon and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the drained peas, and stir to mix well. Serve hot with slices of fresh lemon on top.
I created this recipe by mistake when I was making chicken with capers and lemon juice. It was better with the peas.
I may have given you this recipe for English Pea Salad, but in case I didn’t, here it is again.
English Pea Salad
1 pound of fresh or frozen peas petite peas, washed and drained
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/3 cup reduced fat sour cream
1/3 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
If you feel more comfortable blanching the peas, then by all means do. I just used them washed and drained. Combine all ingredients, add salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled.
By John Kauffman, Ph.D. for TruGreen
Photographs courtesy of TruGreen
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