Mushy Peas

Mushy Peas

Anyone who travels to England and enjoys pub lunches of fish and chips will be familiar with the classic side dish known as mushy peas.  Depending on the skill and enthusiasm of the pub kitchen, you'll encounter anything from a little ramekin of slightly gray, tasteless mashed canned peas to a dish of bright green peas that have been seasoned to enhance the best of peas' sweet, rich flavor.

In fact this dish is quick to make and an easy side dish that partners perfectly with pan seared salmon, roast chicken, or sautéed shrimp.  If you keep a bag of frozen peas on hand, you can make this recipe in minutes for a weekday dinner.  And maybe because of its soft, almost-baby food texture, kids love it.

Traditional British recipes call for using dried marrowfat peas, which are not only difficult (and costly) to find in US markets, they also require overnight soaking.  Instead, modern cooks make this dish using either fresh or frozen green peas.  Given the choice, I recommend using frozen peas since fresh ones are hard to find even in season (June and July in the northeast), and the frozen ones will have more flavor.  Plus you'll save the step of having to do all that shelling.

If using frozen peas, make sure you use the full size and not petite peas.  That's because once you start "mushing" the peas there will be too many skins.  Better to use the larger ones.

In case you're curious, marrowfat peas contain neither marrow nor fat.  They're simply large garden peas that have been left on the vine to mature and dry instead of being harvested and flash frozen.  Besides being used to make mushy peas (yes, there is that much of a demand for this dish in the UK), they're also used for wasabi peas, a snack you may be more familiar with.



  1. In a small skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and slowly cook the pieces of scallion over medium low heat until soft and tender but not browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and place the cooked scallion and melted butter in a blender or food processor.
  2. Cook the peas in salted boiling water until tender. Fresh peas cook in about 5 minutes and frozen ones in about 3 minutes. Drain and place in the blender or food processor along with the scallions.
  3. Add the other tablespoon of butter, 2 tablespoons cream, and the salt and pepper. Pulse the blender or food processor (or if you're using an immersion blender, have everything in a mixing bowl and pulse by hand) until the peas are thick and blended with the cooked scallions. If the mixture is too thick, add the remaining tablespoon of cream. Don't over-process but leave some bits of skin and whole peas in the mixture.
  4. Serve immediately.




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