Veggie revealed

Christine, through her experience of living in Baton Rouge and going to the same farmer's market I go to, and Joanna, through her excellent use of the internet, have correctly deduced that these are purple hull peas.

Like many of you, I thought they were beans when I bought them, so I sat down on Tuesday afternoon all prepared to snap the ends off like string beans and boil them for dinner. After snapping about three of them with considerable difficulty and getting up to find a paring knife, I started thinking that perhaps I was in error. The hulls of these things are very thick. Very. If they were beans, I knew they weren't going to cook quickly at all. I split one of them open and realized that the "beans" inside were kind of large for beans... I ate one, and it tasted like a raw peanut. Good, but crunchy and very legume-like. It still hadn't occurred to me that they were a variety of peas. So I sat down and started to Google/Wiki around to figure out what they were. I started off with "purple beans", but when that got me nowhere, the word "peas" finally popped into my head, and then I found this site, which I think is the site Joanna found as well in her search for info. They have a prize-winning recipe that uses bacon to flavor the peas, and upon reading it, I sighed plaintively that one of my dinner companions is a vegetarian.

So armed with this new knowledge, I started to hull them, dropping the peas into my pot and discarding the hulls. HALF AN HOUR later, I was done. Once I finished, I realized I didn't have enough time to cook them for that night's dinner, so I put them in the fridge, and we had them on Wednesday instead and made a lovely summer supper of peas, creamy Whole Foods mac and cheese, grilled zucchini, and watermelon. Yum.

I learned many things about peas this week:
  1. There are more varieties than I thought. Many more.
  2. Entire websites are devoted to purple hull peas, and there are festivals with hulling contests.
  3. Hulling peas takes a long time.
  4. I would never win a hulling contest.
  5. I am still sometimes too many steps removed from my food in its original state, so I welcomed the opportunity to get a little closer.
  6. One appreciates a meal much more when one has spent a great deal of time in its preparation. But actually, I knew that already. I just didn't know it would hold true for peas; I usually don't care for blackeyed peas, which are very similar to these, but I enjoyed eating them (a LOT), and I think the effort that went into the meal was part of why I appreciated them so much.




I sauteed some garlic and onion, then added the peas, a bay leaf and covered them with chicken broth (probably you could substitute vegetable broth for the vegetarians) and simmered them for 30 minutes. I cooked some rice and turned them into a rice and beans dish. Yum! But you're right; they're a bear to hull.
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