This Southern take on a French lentil salad has become a regular staple in summertime, when peas are at their prime. It is a great barbecue side dish, easy to make, and holds up well for several hours. I like to serve it with creamed corn and fried okra as part of a vegetable plate.
2 pounds pink-eyes, black-eyes, crowders, or butter peas, or a combination, shelled
2 onions, quartered
1 ham hock or a small chunk of slab bacon
2 dried hot chile peppers
2 bay leaves
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bunch sage, leaves removed and torn into small pieces
1 bunch thyme, leaves removed
fresh ground black pepper
hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco or Cholula (my note: since living in New Orleans, Crystal is the hot sauce of choice)
In a large pot, combine peas, onions, ham hock, hot peppers, bay leaves, and salt; add cold water to cover by three inches. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and simmer til tender, 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the freshness of the peas. Set aside to cool in cooking liquid, then drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the liquid. Discard onions, peppers, and bay leaves; if desired, remove meat from ham hock and reserve for another use (discard the bacon if that’s what you used).
In a large pan, heat olive oil with garlic, sage, and thyme until fragrant. Add peas along with reserved cooking liquid and toss to mix. Season with salt and pepper and serve with hot pepper sauce.
*Courtesy of Frank Stitt’s Southern Table