|Best known as an accompaniment to fish and chips, mushy peas have much more to offer. Here's Jenny Chandler's recipe for simple but sublime classic mushy marrowfat peas, with a solution to achieving a rich green colour without food colouring, and suggestions for mouth-watering ways to serve them.
There’s just no better accompaniment to classic fish and chips but my passion for mushy peas doesn’t end there. Cooked marrowfat peas can be used as a base for hummus-like purées, to thicken soups and stews or as pie fillings once combined with tasty veg or meat. It's easy to add some extra pizzazz by adding different seasonings, like these Moorish Mushy Peas with Harissa.
To my mind it’s never worth cooking up less than 500g of peas. You can always freeze any leftovers in smaller portions for a quick fix at a later date.
A teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda can be added to the peas whilst soaking or cooking (to speed up the softening process), but you can still achieve that perfect creamy texture with nothing but water - unless your water is especially hard. Bicarbonate of soda can give a slightly soapy flavour (some cooks counterbalance this with sugar) and it’s also said to reduce the nutritional value of the peas, so I’d rather leave it out.
We’ve come to expect the lurid green of most ready-cooked mushy peas, often achieved with artificial food colourings. As some may turn their noses up at the less glamorous beige of the natural pea, I've also provided an optional variation on the recipe for Green Mushy Peas.
No, I’m not going suggest that you use fresh peas as so many recipes do, the whole point of mushy peas is the fabulous texture, flavour and nutritional value of the dried pea. A little veg goes a very long way when it comes to greening up your peas, so, if you’re not a spinach lover please do still give this a chance. My daughter loathes spinach and yet she lapped up the peas without an inkling that they contained her least favourite vegetable.
Makes 10 generous portions
- 500g Dried Marrowfat Peas - Hodmedod's Kabuki variety works especially well
- 1-2 tsp Salt
- 3-4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or 50g Butter)
For Green Mushy Peas (optional)
- Soak the peas in plenty of water overnight (or for 12 hours), remembering to use a large pan/bowl as the peas will double in size at least.
- Drain off the soaking water and then place in a large plan with enough fresh water to cover by about 5cm. You may need to top up the pea water during cooking but you certainly don’t want to have to drain any of this nutrient-rich juice away later.
- Bring the pan up to a boil, cover and then simmer for anything between 40 minutes and an hour (if you have hard water, filtering can help reduce the cooking time). Check the peas from time to time, they may require a splash more water and once they begin to burst and collapse its a good idea to stir the pan every few minutes to prevent any sticking.
- The final texture of your peas is up to you: I like quite a thick mush and so I bubble off any extra moisture but you may finish up by adding more water to reach your perfect consistency.
- Now’s the time to season with salt and, for an especially luscious creamy taste, some fat: either butter or extra virgin oil.
- If you’re eating your peas later you will find that they thicken up and you may need to add a little more liquid as you reheat them.
Optional steps for Green Mushy Peas
- Wash the spinach thoroughly and remove any tough or particularly stringy stalks.
- Squash the leaves into a saucepan with a well fitting lid, there will be no need for any extra water if your leaves are still damp from washing (if using ready-washed spinach just add 2 tablespoons of water to the pan). Place the pan over a medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes, until the spinach has collapsed and turned a fabulously deep green.
- Blitz the spinach to a purée using a hand-held or jug blender - you want it to be really smooth otherwise your peas will be flecked with spots rather than beautifully green.
- Stir the spinach purée into your cooked mushy peas just before serving to keep the really vibrant green.
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