English Mushy Peas

English mushy peas, peas

The English are wild about their mushy peas!  They are served as a side dish with pub food like fish and chips, bangers and mash and pot pie.  At first, I was turned off by the name, but I changed my tune after actually tasting them.  Well, I should say I changed my tune tasting them at Russell’s Fish and Chips, in the English Cotswolds town of Broadway.  Some mushy peas taste just how they sound – bland, but Russell’s were full of flavor.  Of course, I decided to try and recreate them myself!

dried split peas

Mushy Peas Ingredients
2 cups of dried split peas
3 cups vegetable stock or water and a bullion cube
1 lemon
1 bunch of fresh mint
3 tablespoons of capers
5 scallions
salt and pepper to taste

Begin by covering your split peas with boiling water and letting them soak for at least 12 hours on the counter-top.  It’s ideal to change the water once or twice while the peas are soaking if possible.  Split peas do not require soaking to remove phytic acid, like other beans and legumes, but soaking them does cut down on their cooking time and makes them creamier.  One trick to remember, you don’t have to cook your peas (or beans) directly after soaking them.  It’s fine to drain the water and put the soaked legumes in the fridge for a few days until you’re ready to cook.

cooking split peas

Place the soaked peas in a pot and cover with stock (or water and a veggie bullion cube), and begin to simmer.  Stir them regularly while cooking and add more water, if needed.  I cooked mine on medium heat for about 45 minutes to achieve my desired consistency — cooked through, but not soupy.

Interestingly, peas are packed with nutrition, although many people don’t think of them as particularly healthy vegetables.  They are low-fat, but high-everything-else due to low calories and high levels of protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and micronutrients.  The phytonutrient, coumestrol, is found in peas and was recently shown to be effective in preventing stomach cancer.  A research study in Mexico City determined you need at least 2 milligrams of coumestrol per day to reap the cancer prevention properties.  One cup of peas has over 10 milligrams!

mushy peas ingredients, lemon, mint, scallions, capers
While the beans are cooking prepare your flavorings.  These seasonings are critical to avoid bland peas!  Mince the capers, scallions, and mint finley so they will be evenly distributed throughout the dish.Drain the peas when they are finished cooking and save the cooking liquid.  Add the seasonings and lemon juice and mix thoroughly.  Feel free to add a splash of cooking liquid or caper juice to the bowl if you need a bit more moisture.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Here’s a shot of the original mushy peas inspiration at Russell’s for inspiration!
mushy peas, fish and chips


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