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Robb Walsh's Fresh Field Peas

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[Photograph: Laurie Smith]

Driving around East Texas in the summertime, you're sure to pass a fair share of farm stands selling all sorts of fresh beans (or peas)—black-eyed peas, cowpeas, crowder peas and fresh pinto beans. And while most of us are familiar with cooking them either canned or dried, fresh beans have a bite and freshness that's a seasonal thing of beauty.

Robb Walsh, author of Texas Eats, keeps his Fresh Field Peas simple with a soul food-inspired recipe that begins (as many good things do) with bacon. Onions are sweated in the bacon fat, and the peas are added and simmered with chicken broth, with a few pods of okra as a thickener, and a lone chile for heat. Fresh peas don't need too much time on the stovetop; just simmer until tender and serve.

What Worked: Fresh beans cooked down with bacon, a few okra pods, and chile makes for a soul-satisfying side.

What Didn't: No complaints here.

Suggested Tweaks: If you can't locate fresh beans around your parts, feel free to crack open a can or two of black-eyed peas and proceed with the recipe.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Texas Eats to give away.

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