Summer Fresh Field Peas

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Make the most of the fresher-than fresh produce that can be found this season at Farmers Markets, Roadside Stands, and even at the grocery store. You cannot go wrong by choosing fresh field peas for summer side dishes, dips and salads.

Field peas are a rich source of protein, carbohydrates, and some minerals, and there is a wide variety of recipes to use this fresh summer bounty.

Traditional Southern Cooked Field Peas


  • 2 smoked ham hocks or purchased cooked ham hocks
  • 1 ½ cups finely chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons bacon drippings
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups shelled fresh field peas
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper


  1. Bring ham hocks and 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large Dutch oven medium heat, simmer 1 ½ – 2 hours or until meat is tender.
  2. Meanwhile, sauté onion in hot drippings in a medium skillet over medium-high heat 6 minutes. Add garlic, sauté 1 minute. Add peas and onion mixture to Dutch oven with ham hocks, bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, 45 minutes or until peas are tender. Remove hocks, drain peas, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Remove and chop ham from hock bones, discard bones. Stir ham into peas, if desired.

Yields 4 cups.


Cowboy Caviar


  • 2 cups field peas, cooked cooled
  • 2 cups fresh corn, cooked and cooled or raw
  • 4 medium cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • ¼ cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium red pepper, chopped
  • ¼ cup prepared Italian dressing, or your homemade dressing
  • 1 medium lime
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped


  1. Drain beans and corn. Combine tomatoes, onion, and bell peppers.
  2. Add the Italian dressing, the juice from the lime, and the chopped cilantro, toss to coat.
  3. Allow to marinate, or serve immediately, with chips.

Field Pea Relish


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, or sugar substitute
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups cooked and cooled field peas
  • 1 cup halved multicolored cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped drained capers


  1. Bring oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium.
  2. Stir in field peas, cherry tomatoes, onion, dill, capers, cook, stirring occasionally, until warmed, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Serve warm, or let cool completely, about 30 minutes, serve at room temperature.

How to use this relish

  • Serve with grilled meat, chicken, fish, pork, or seafood.
  • Serve relish as a dip with chips.
  • Fold the relish into hot cooked pasta and top with parmesan cheese.

Pickled Field Peas


  • 4 cups cooked and cooled Field Peas
  • ¼ small onion, diced
  • 1 fresh jalapeno, sliced then, remove seeds and membrane for less heat
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • ½ cup avocado oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Pour cooked beans into a clean quart mason jar.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper, whisk to fully blend.
  3. Pour dressing over the beans, leaving about ½ inch headspace.
  4. Seal jar and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours. Overnight is best. Should last five days in the refrigerator.

Classic Charleston Field Pea Pilau

(Courtesy of Charleston Magazine)


  • 5 medium tomatoes, cored
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 1 cup diced green pepper
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 Tablespoons sliced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 20 sprigs fresh thyme tied into a bundle with kitchen twine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound cooked shrimp or chicken, optional
  • 1 ½ cooked field peas
  • 3 cups steamed rice
  • ½ pound sliced bacon, cooked until crispy and then crumbled


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have ice water ready. Score the end of each tomato with an X and drop them into the boiling water. Cook until the skin just begins to pull back, one to two minutes. Remove from pot and submerge in the bowl of ice water. Once cool, peel the skin off and cut the tomatoes into quarters.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, peppers, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the salt, oregano, black pepper, white pepper, red pepper flakes, and cayenne and stir to thoroughly combine.
  3. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, and bay leaf and stir to combine. Cover the pot. Reduce the heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce comes together, about one hour.
  4. Add optional shrimp or chicken.
  5. Add the field peas and cook until hot through. Discard the thyme and bay leaf before serving. Serve over rice, about ½ cup per dish, and garnish with crumbled bacon.

Serves 6.

Field Pea and Orzo Salad


  • 1 pound uncooked whole wheat orzo
  • 1/3 cup basil pesto
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, plus 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 2 cups cooked and cooled field peas
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups loosely packed baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup sliced cucumbers, cut into rounds and then into half moons
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup chopped salted pistachios


  1. Cook orzo according to package directions, drain, and rinse with cold water until pasta feels cool to the touch.
  2. While pasta cooks, stir together pesto, oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a large bowl.
  3. Add pasta, beans, tomatoes, spinach, cucumber, salt and ½ cup of the feta to the pesto mixture, stir to combine. Let stand 10 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with pistachios and remaining ½ cup feta.

Serves 8.