by Karen Joslin April 12, 2019
"Make peas Commodian style thus; cook the peas, when skimmed, crush pepper, lovage, dill, shallots moistened with broth; add wine and broth to taste: stir in a saucepan with peas to combine..."
Pease porridge is best known as a traditional British dish, cooked from dried peas (especially yellow peas).
However, Ancient Romans also loved peas, both fresh and dried. My inspiration for this recipe comes mainly from the recipe quoted above — “197 Peas in the Pod à la Commodus” from the ancient Roman cookbook De Re Coquinaria Book V, attributed to Apicius.
While the Commodian-style peas recipe uses peas in the pod, I use shelled peas to make a porridge, as in several other pea recipes in the cookbook. Frozen peas work fine, though you can certainly shell your own peas if you like.
Apicius thickens his Commodian peas with eggs; I use homemade vegan yogurt or cashew cream instead. The tanginess of yogurt adds a wonderful depth of flavor to this dish, which I love. Cashew cream, on the other hand, thickens the porridge more and tastes neutral. The amount listed is for those of you who want precise measurements. If that's not you, you can certainly just stir in however much you want.
You might notice that the recipe quote above mentions lovage. Lovage is a perennial herb native to southern Europe that’s often compared to celery. I've never seen it in the U.S. If lovage is available to you, feel free to use either some seeds or leaves. I recommend starting with a small amount, like 1/2 tsp., then adding more if needed. Pregnant women should avoid lovage because it can cause miscarriage.
To make these peas extra delicious, top them off with a sprinkle of mushroom bacon.
P.S. – If you don’t have shallots, you can substitute leeks or onions.
1/3 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt or cashew cream*
2 cups green peas
2 Tbs. minced shallot
1 large bay leaf
1 cup vegetable broth
Splash of sherry or white wine
2 Tbs. chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper to taste
Mushroom bacon (optional)
Place the peas in a pot with the shallots, bay leaf, vegetable broth, and a splash of sherry or wine. Bring to a simmer and cook until the peas are done (should only take a few minutes).
Purée the peas with an immersible blender. If you use a regular blender or food processor, let the peas cool a bit first. (Otherwise, you may end up with a big mess to clean up!)
Remove the bay leaf.
Stir in the dill, salt, pepper, and yogurt or cashew cream.
Serve warm. Top servings with mushroom bacon, if desired.
*To make cashew cream:
Soak 1/2 cup raw cashews in water for 3 hours, or cover them with boiling water and soak for at least 15 minutes.
Drain the cashews. Put them in a food processor or blender with 1/4 cup water. Blend to a smooth, thick consistency that’s pourable, adding more water as necessary. You should end up with at least 1/3 cup of cashew cream. Save any extra for another use.
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