British Bites: Mushy Peas

British Bites

Classic British dishes updated for the modern American cook.


[Photograph: Sydney Oland]

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To many of us, the idea of serving any vegetable mushy conjures up images of sad canned string beans and overcooked carrots. Mushy peas are miles away from both of those dishes—peas are cooked simply with butter, then mashed and seasoned with lemon, salt and pepper. The result is a simple bright side dish that comes together in no time at all, and adds vivid color and light flavors to any plate.

Traditionally, mushy peas are made with marrowfat peas, which are mature peas left to dry outside in the field. These days, it's simpler to find a bag of frozen peas to make this classic dish. Mushy peas are a usually found as a side for fish and chips, and if you're heading that way, there's nothing quite like a chunk of battered fish dipped in warm mushy peas. But in the spirit of British ingenuity, this simple side can be adapted into a heap of other dishes. Combined with a few drizzles of cream, it becomes a great sauce for some pasta; it makes a great filling for omelets; and can make a fantastic before-supper nibble spread on some toast and topped with some slivered ham.