Peas… when you were younger, your parents probably told you that you couldn’t leave the table until you had eaten all of them, right? They were part of the green veggie gang that most children despise! However, when we get older, we start to realize just how incredible this ingredient is! After all, what would be classic fish and chips without some mushy peas on the side? We’ve also seen peas used in fine dining recipes, with scallops and pea puree springing to mind! If you’re a lover of this tiny green vegetable, you’re going to love Great British Pea Week! That’s right; a full week to celebrate peas!

  • Did you know that the first-ever television commercial in the United Kingdom was for BirdsEye Frozen Peas in 1969?
  • In 1984, Janet Harris of Sussex, set the record for the highest number of peas eaten one at a time with chopsticks in one hour. She managed 7,175! Maybe you could try and beat this to celebrate? 
  • Eric ‘Badlands’ Booker holds the record for pea-eating, consuming 9.5 one-pound bowls of peas within 12 minutes.
  • The average person consumes almost 9,000 peas per year in Britain. 
  • At least 37 types of peas were grown by ancient Romans. 
  • The first known reference to mushy peas was in 1968, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.
  • The word pea came about in the 1660s. They were originally called ‘pease’ in English.

History Of Great British Pea Week

Great British Pea Week aims to enhance understanding and awareness of the heritage and provenance of peas, giving us all a reason to celebrate the little green nutritional wonders! The celebration was launched by the pea-vining industry and the Yes Peas! Campaign. The British Growers Association runs the Yes Peas! The campaign, which is funded by machinery companies, freezers, and growers in the vining pea sector. The campaign seeks to promote the nutritional benefits, provenance, and versatility of frozen peas, engaging with consumers and inspiring them to use peas in their meals. TV chef, Rachel Green, has supported the campaign, with hundreds of her recipes being used as part of it.

In the early times, peas were mainly grown for their dry seeds. In the early third century, BC, Theophrastus discusses this vegetable as being one of the legumes that are sown later in the winter because of their tenderness. Peas are also mentioned in De re Rustica by Columella in the first century AD. This is when wild peas were gathered by Roman legionaries from the sandy soils of Judea and Numidia to supplement their rations. Field peas were also constantly mentioned throughout the Middle Ages. this is when they were an important staple that kept famine at bay. This little ingredient has had a key role to play throughout many different eras in history. In fact, in Early Modern Europe, it was deemed an innovative luxury to eat green peas fresh and immature.

How to celebrate Great British Pea Week

We have plenty of different suggestions for those who are looking for fun ways to celebrate Great British Pea Week. 

Grow your own peas

One of the best ways to celebrate Great British Pea Week is to try growing your own peas! After all, nothing compares with the super-sweet flavor and tender texture of homegrown peas that have been freshly harvested. So, how can you grow your own peas at home?

To do this, you will need to plant peas 3 cm deep into fertile ground. Do this from spring to mid-summer. Use pea sticks to stake your young plants, as this is going to support their growth. Once the flowers appear, make sure they are fed weekly using a high-potash fertilizer. You will need to harvest peas for around three months. 

Of course, another option is to sow peas from seeds. This is something you will be able to do between March and early July. Choose a spot that is well-drained and sunny. Make sure that you dig in a lot of garden compost, mushroom compost, or well-rotted manure to improve the soil before you sow. You should then use a spade or how to create a shallow trench – approximately 3 cm deep and 22 cm wide. Sow the peas in two parallel lines, with the seeds being spaced around 10 cm apart. Us soil to cover the seeds, label the row, and water them well. You should notice that seedlings start to appear within a week or two! 

Experiment with delicious pea recipes 

There is only one thing better than growing your own peas, and this is eating them! There are lots of delicious recipes online, so you’re bound to find something that appeals to your taste buds.

If you want to create something that can impress your friends and family, we would suggest bacon and pea gnocchi. You can give the classic British combination some Italian flair with this dish! 

Bacon and pea gnocchi recipe

The recipe serves four, so you can alter the quantities if you’re cooking for more than four! You will need the following ingredients…

  • Salt 
  • One egg, whisked
  • 240g flour
  • 400g potatoes
  • 400g peas, cooked and mashed

For serving…

  • 2 baby gem lettuces
  • 60g fresh peas
  • 50g smoked bacon, sliced 

Start off by preheating your oven to 350F/180C/gas mark 4. Use a bit of oil to rub the potato skins, and then bake them for roughly 45 minutes. Then, scoop out the flesh, and either put it through a potato ricer or mash it. 

You should then grab your blender and blitz the 400g of cooked peas to create a puree. Mix in the potatoes. Add the eggs, salt, and flour. Then, shape the mixture into small, oval shapes. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and then drop the balls in. Once they float to the surface, remove them from the water. 

You should then put the gnocchi into the frying pan with the bacon and cook until brown. Add the shredded lettuce and fresh peas, cooking until just wilted. Then, serve and enjoy!

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