Poor peas. We don’t think there has ever been a more maligned vegetable. Word on the street is that toddlers hate them, teenagers refuse them and grown men weep when they are added to an otherwise perfect dinner of meat and potatoes. As far as we know, peas are the only vegetable that kids would rather shove up their noses instead of into their mouths. And it doesn’t end there. If you want to insult someone’s intelligence, call them a pea-brain. Facebook has a page devoted to hating peas, creatively called, “I hate PEAS!!!”. (Incidentally, this page has more followers than our Mia Kouppa Facebook page. Friends, can we please fix that?) Then there was that time when the New York Times published a recipe suggesting that peas be added to guacamole. Hysteria ensued. Peagate was such a big deal that even President Obama weighed in…against the pea! We don’t get it. Perfectly round, vibrantly green, and subtly sweet, we think peas are fantastic. Doubt us? Keep reading.
Peas are legumes, and Canada is the world’s largest producer and exporter of peas. They are quite low in calories but high in fiber, protein and several important minerals and vitamins. In the recipe which follows, green peas are prepared in a simple, Greek peasant-like style of cooking, producing a dish which falls into the category of dishes known as lathera. Lathi means oil in Greek and lathera implies oily. In these dishes, which are usually vegetarian and stew-like, ingredients are cooked in an abundance of olive oil and often with the addition of tomato and herbs. The rich sauce which results is best enjoyed with a fresh hunk of bread. Yet, peas remain the stars here, and we believe that you will love this recipe, not only because it is delicious, but also because it is quick, incredibly easy, and satisfying. We even think that this recipe may make it’s way into a regular rotation in your house, and then you and us…we’ll be like two peas in a pod.
If you will be using frozen peas it is essential that you defrost them first by placing them, in a single layer, on a baking sheet lined with a clean kitchen towel. This will remove all of the excess water that the peas contain by virtue of their being frozen. If time does not permit you to defrost your peas, another option would be to boil them quickly in some plain water, just enough to defrost them. Drain well before proceeding. If you don’t go through the effort of prepping your peas as described above, your final meal may be more watery than it should be.
As with all lathera, use the best quality Greek olive oil that you can find. Along with the peas, the other great star here is the oil, so don’t skimp…and certainly don’t use anything other than olive oil. Although not indicated in the recipe below, if you like you can also drizzle some additional olive oil onto the peas once they have been served, for extra flavour (and calories…whatever!).
The recipe which follows is meant to serve 4 as a meal. If you will be using this dish as a side, then of course you will be able to feed more people…or enjoy leftovers the next day.
Mia Kouppa: Stewed green peas
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1/2 cup Greek olive oil
- 750 grams frozen peas, defrosted
- 1 cup finely diced carrot
- 2 medium sized potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 cup fresh tomato sauce or passata
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup chopped dill
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Combine oil and diced onion in a large saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until onions are caramelized, approximately 5 – 7 minutes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium high. Cover and cook for approximately 20 minutes.