Real Food: Fresh pink-eyed peas worth the work

By: Joanne Neft
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Editor’s Note: Joanne Neft is a longtime Placer County agriculture advocate. This is the first in a monthly column. It’s the season for fresh peas and you’ll want to check out farmers market grower tables to learn who has pink-eyed or black-eyed peas. Either variety is a real find. Before filling your market bag with peas think about the many ways you can use them: fresh, frozen, or cooked and saved as another meal. Frozen peas are a real treat and it’s simple to cook them briefly and mix with some uncooked corn kernels for a tasty salad. Dress the salad with a basil vinaigrette dressing and you have a winner. Ask the farmers market grower how many pounds of pods you’ll need in order to end up with a pound of husked peas. Generally it will take a pound and a half of shelled peas to serve a side dish for four people. The recipe works well as a main course and is delicious with a couple slices of freshly sliced and buttered bread. Once home with the peas grab a comfortable chair and listen to your favorite music or watch TV as you carefully remove the little gems from each pod. Frankly, for me it’s a relaxing way to break up the day and still be productive. The sausage for this recipe is an Italian sausage made by The Coffee Pot Ranch. Dan Macon of Flying Mule Farm has a lamb version of Italian sausage that will work as well. If you substitute dried beans for fresh beans, like black-eyed peas for fresh pink-eyed peas, remember you’ll have to use more water. Learn more about Joanne Neft and Laura Kenny’s “Placer County Real Food” project and cookbook at __________ Fresh Pink-Eyed Peas with Italian Sausage and Tomatoes 1 pound Italian sausage 1 large onion, diced 2 tablespoons garlic, minced 2 teaspoons rosemary 1 quart chicken stock salt and pepper to taste 3 pounds shucked fresh pink-eyed peas 3 cups tomatoes, diced In a large pot, brown sausage, then add onions, garlic, rosemary and stock. Add peas. The stock should just cover the peas and sausage. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then turn down to simmer, about 25 to 30 minutes. Check every 15 minutes to make sure there is enough liquid. Drain any excess liquid (which can be reduced and added back in if desired), check seasoning and gently stir in tomatoes. ~Recipe from “Placer County Real Food”