I’ve written before about my great love of fresh peas and how hard it is to find them here. You can imagine my excitement then when I found fresh “picked this morning” salad peas at the campus farmers market on its opening day.
So what exactly is a salad pea? Good question. In my growing up years, there were two kinds of peas: shell peas and salad peas. Shell peas are the kind that you pop out of the shell and only eat the peas of the pod. Salad peas are the kind where you eat shell and all. In the past few weeks, I’ve tried to find the correct name for what we call salad peas and the best I can come up with is that they are what the rest of the world calls sugar snap peas.
Salad peas are my favorite. Driving back from eastern Kentucky a week or so before the market opened, we passed a cardboard sign on the side of the road that said simply”Salad Peas”. Had my son not been sick and we were in need of home and Tylenol, you know I would have been all about pulling over for that. So, I was pretty pumped to see that one of my favorite farmers at the market had some to sell.
While standing at his table, a friend asked me how I fixed my salad peas. I told her that I cooked them like green beans. She said she’d never heard of that but my farmer chimed in and said “That’s how we fix them too.” A sweet older lady standing nearby suggested I try them raw. Thanks but nah…
I’ll admit these peas were a little rough looking. That’s the thing about garden fresh, it’s not always as pretty as the grocery store stuff. Shell peas have a tough string that has to be removed so you snap the end and pull the string off then snap the pea into pieces like green beans. I rinsed them a couple of times then cooked them with some bacon grease left over from that morning’s breakfast. If I hadn’t fresh bacon grease, I would have tossed some bacon in or, my personal preference, some salt pork or “fat back”.
The smell of these peas cooking took me back to my childhood. There is a lot of truth to that notion of comfort food. I think peas are particularly special since they are in such a short season. It’s definitely a food to treasure when you can find them! I served mine with cornbread (of course!), cooked new potatoes, a green onion (a MUST for all summer meals) and a pork chop.