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Comfort Food, Vegan-Style

photo (11)When the weather begins to turn cooler, I get a hankering for one of my favorite late summer crops: purple hull peas.

Yes, I am a Child of the South. In case there was any doubt.

Harvested fresh, shelled just before cooking, they make a savory broth that begs for cornbread. The peas have a creamy texture.

In the same family as black-eyed peas and crowder peas, they are much more flavorful than either one. Traditionally cooked with some sort of pork, either fatback, ham, or bacon, purple hulls and their hearty pot liquor stand on their own beautifully without those inclusions.

Mature pods are tough and rather dry, and go into the compost bin. Immature pods are usually tender enough to include in the pot.

Serves 8 as a main dish

  • Enough peas to yield 2 pounds, shelled
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2T fine diced carrots
  • 3 T fine diced celery
  • 2T olive oil
  • plenty of cracked pepper (purple hulls love lots of pepper)
  • salt to taste- (2 teaspoons is about right for our family)
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1T minced fresh sage

Rinse the shelled peas and set aside to drain.

Heat the olive oil in your favorite dutch oven until it shimmers, then add the diced onions. Cook until soft and slightly browned, 10 minutes or so. Stir in the carrots and celery.

Add the peas, and enough water to cover by one inch. Bring to a boil, boil for 5 minutes, then reduce to a simmer and cook til tender, around 45 minutes.

Once the peas are tender, stir in the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and sage. Cook gently for another 10 minutes to incorporate seasonings.

Many southern cooks mash some of the peas to thicken the pot liquor.

Delicious on their own, or with cornbread or cooked grains of your choice.