My maternal grandmother's peas first grew at Heart & Sole Gardens in 2012, when my parents cleaned their freezer and passed these heirloom seeds to me. Since Granny died in 1986, I was unsure about the germination abilities of more than twenty-five-year old seeds, so I sowed them thickly. Granny's peas, a variety known as Whippoorwill, not only germinated at a high rate, they produced an abundant crop of delicious peas.
|Freshly shelled Whippoorwill Peas|
According to information published on the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange site, African slaves introduced Whippoorwill peas to the United States and Thomas Jefferson grew the legumes in his Monticello gardens. Although I do not know how Whippoorwill peas came to my family, I am very grateful for these high-yielding, delicious heirloom seeds.
|Whippoorwill peas bloom in early morning|
|Fresh peas on left, dried seed peas on right|
While in season, look for these delicious peas at your local farmer's market and try this recipe for Whippoorwill Hummus. I like the texture of blanched peas, but for a smoother mixture, boil the peas until they are tender enough to mash with a fork. Be sure to save the pot liquor!
Whippoorwill Pea Hummus
1 cup fresh shelled peas
1/2 clove garlic
1 red chile pepper, seeded
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon pot liquor (pea broth)
1 teaspoon salt (I used NC's OBX sea salt)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
In a small pot, boil peas in water for about 2 minutes, longer if you would like a smoother hummus. Place peas in ice water to blanch, reserving broth.
Blend peas, garlic, pepper, juice, tahini, pot liquor and salt in a food processor until all ingredients are incorporated into a thick mixture. While processor is running, add olive oil in a thin stream and continue processing until mixture is desired consistency.
Serve with crudities, naan, crackers or just a spoon.
|Simple ingredients combine to make a decadent pea hummus|