Henry County’s Cooking with Pass the Peas Please

By Jimmie Batchelor
Special to the Times

I remember, as a child, hiding my English peas under the edge of my plate or dropping one at a time down into my glass of milk at the dinner table to avoid eating them. They were always found, of course, and I got away with nothing. Today I love English peas and I’m glad I do, having found their nutritional value and the many good recipes available. However, I have never been able to acquire a taste for pea soup with not-so-good memories associated with the stuff, which I won’t go into in this space!

Peas are high in protein and take little cooking time. Special photo

Peas are second only to lima beans for a source of protein. A serving of 3/4 cup is only 100 calories and has more protein than a tablespoon of peanut butter or one egg, and less than one-half gram of fat.

Peas take very little cooking time and can be eaten raw. They are available mostly in the spring, but come frozen or canned all year. My collected recipes go back to my early cooking days, they are so versatile.

Cooked peas can be processed (mashed) with cilantro, garlic and parmesan cheese for a dip or spread for sandwiches. Throw some into a tossed salad, tuna or chicken casserole or soup along with your regular favorites. I remember my mother (I believe I did some of this too with my children) making ‘nests’ out of rice or mashed potatoes and filling the hole with peas. Guess it was to make me quit hiding the peas!

Pea Salad

3 Tbsp. vinegar
3 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 small jar chopped pimentos, drained
1 cup finely-diced celery (may substitute partial or all water chestnuts or jicama)
1/4 cup diced onion
1 large bell pepper, diced
2 cans English peas, drained

Mix all ingredients together. Chill and serve. This is better if it can sit overnight before serving.

Creamed Peas
Blue Willow Cookbook, 1997

1 (16 oz.) can LeSeur Early Peas
1/2 cup regular milk
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. melted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the butter and flour in a saucepan. Pour half the juice from the can of peas and the milk into the saucepan. Over medium heat, bring to a slow boil, whisking constantly, being careful not to scorch the milk. Simmer until liquid is the consistency of gravy. Add the peas and seasoning. Simmer 5-8 minutes.

Marinated Pea Salad

3/4 cup vinegar, using whatever is on hand. (I’ve used 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup balsamic glaze.)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. salt
Black pepper to taste
1 (17 oz.) can English peas, drained
1 (12 oz.) can Shoe Peg Corn, drained
1 cup finely chopped celery or water chestnuts
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 small jar of chopped pimentos

Combine first five ingredients in a saucepan. Bring mixture to boil and boil one minute. Remove from heat and let cool. Place all vegetables in container that can be refrigerated. After mixture has cooled, pour it over the vegetables and stir. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. After serving, refrigerate any leftovers.

Layered Pea Salad
This is an all-time favorite of mine. You need to wait until it is Vidalia onion season unless you can find a really sweet onion!

Iceberg lettuce, torn into 1-2” pieces
Mayonnaise or salad dressing (Really best with Miracle Whip.) If you use regular mayo, whip in 1-2 tsp. of sugar to the mayo before spreading over lettuce,
1 can LeSeur Peas, drained well
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
Bacon bits or chopped bacon fried crispy, about 6 slices
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Shredded Parmesan Cheese
Your favorite seasoning – I use Morton’s Nature Seasoning
Sour Cream

Use a 9”x11” glass dish. Layer ingredients evenly in the above order. You can seal the top with sour cream. Assemble a day before serving.