I never knew what a field pea was until I moved to the South. Even then, it took me a while to get to know the "pea" family—which is quite extended. There're lady peas, pink-eyed peas, purple hull, creamer peas, black-eyed peas. . . . . In some parts of the country, you can see field peas being shelled at your local farmers’ market. In Birmingham, Ala., I loved watching the "mean green pea machine" spit out the hulls in one pile and the delicate peas in another.
The key to cooking field peas is to not overcook them. In fact, a 10-minute bath in boiling water and then a quick saute with seasonings (as in the recipe below) make these vegetables a real epiphany. The easy thing is that they all can be used interchangeably. If you don't have field peas, use lima beans in this recipe, which is perfect with roast chicken, corn on the cob and sliced tomatoes.
—By Jill Melton, Relish Editor