Sea Island Red Peas GrecoSoCo Style

Another GrecoSoCo recipe for you to try in your home kitchen. This time I use Sea Island Red Peas from Marsh Hen Mill in Edisto, South Carolina. Although you can find these tasty peas elsewhere, if you want them fresh, grown close to their historic soil, and farmed sustainably, try Marsh Hen Mill. I visited a couple of years ago and was so impressed by this family-owned and operated mill on the South Carolina coast. While not all of their employees are part of the Johnsman family, all employees are family, and this is one of the characteristics that sets Betsy and Greg Johnsman apart from other mills and growers. It's almost as if your uncle or grandmother grew the peas or corn or rice and took them to the mill for processing. It's that kind of fresh, and it's that kind of good.

Greg Johnsman showing me his Marsh Hen tattoo.

Sea Island Red Peas belong to the cowpea/field pea family. Traditionally, these tiny and fragrant peas are paired with Carolina Gold Rice (the granddaddy of long-grain rice in the United States) for a dish called Hoppin' John, which is found on dinner tables across the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia and further in. If you visit the Ark of Taste, an ongoing cataloging of seeds facing extinction, you can search for the red peas and learn more about their origins and how we came to grow them on the South Carolina/Georgia coast. For a printable recipe, click here.

My GrecoSoCo adaptation doesn't use the traditional ham bone or side meats. I apply a very simple Greek Heritage cooking method to this Southern heritage legume, and often combine it with boiled greens for a healthy and lip-smacking delicious dinner.  A dreamy-creamy gravy appears when the peas are fully cooked, which makes this dish the perfect companion to Carolina Gold Rice, and the consummate vegetarian and vegan entree. Here's the recipe.

A healthy and dreamy-creamy gravy appears magically once the peas are fully cooked.


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