Friday, October 16, 2009

Pea Patties--the Original "Veggie Burgers"?

While I was home in Louisiana my mom and I were talking about the way people used to cook and eat "back in the olden days"(!) in the south, and especially in the rural south. It wasn't uncommon to have meat only on Sundays or special occasions; there was no running to town to the store for a missing ingredient or impulse item; you ate what you had on hand, and you never, ever wasted food of any sort. As a result, though, our mothers and grandmothers learned to improvise and substitute and come up with all kinds of delicious uses for what they had on hand.

My mom was talking about the way her mother used to make pea patties out of leftover cooked peas--not green peas (or "circle peas" as one of the grandbabies used to say) but real peas--purple hull peas--you could probably use field peas or black eyes or maybe even crowders, but in my family, "peas" means purple hull peas. After a couple of conversations about pea patties and other old time southern delicacies, we decided to make some.

What follows is not exactly a recipe, it's more a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants tutorial on making pea patties.

The star of this show has to be, of course, the black iron skillet--put enough "frying grease" to cover the bottom of the pan about 1/4 inch deep. Ideally you should use leftover shortening or oil that's been used and saved, but we can't all be that thrifty--you can use cooking oil if you have to. Turn on medium high heat so that the pan will be hot when you're ready to go.

Mom spooned a couple of cups of cold leftover peas into a bowl, and mashed them up lightly with her big spoon. To that, she added an egg and about half a cup of flour to bind everything together.

She diced up about half of small onion...

...and several tablespoons of green bell pepper and stirred it all together.

Take about a spoonful (maybe 1/4 c or slightly less) and dredge in some flour...

The "batter" if you want to call it that is quite soft (if it's too soft, add more flour or mashed peas), so you'll probably have to do this part with your hands. Form into a small patty shape...

...and drop carefully into your hot skillet

Cook a couple of minutes on one side, until the bottom is browned, then turn carefully...

At this point, my mom lightly mashed the patties--it doesn't take long to brown both sides, and you don't want the patties to be so thick that the inside doesn't get cooked, as well. (If the outside browns too quickly and inside isn't done, your grease is too hot and/or your patties too thick) When the second side was browned, I think we flipped them once more just to be sure both sides were browned and they were hot through and through.

Drain on some paper towels, and enjoy!

At this point I had to put the camera down--it works better if one person does the messy part while someone else tends to the frying pan!

We started off making just a few of these, but once we tasted them, we had to make more--they were delicious! We ate them by themselves as a snack/appetizer, but I can definitely see using these as a meat substitute or a side dish with dinner.

Right now while our son is away at college, I cook for a two-person household most of the time. I love my peas from my parent's garden (via the freezer), but it is easy when there are only two of you to get tired of eating the same vegetable 3 days in a row--and now I have an alternative that's frugal and Delicious!

This post is linked to:

Foodie Friday
with Designs by Gollum

Frugal Friday
at Life as Mom

Recipe Swap at The Grocery Cart Challenge

Until next time--good cooking, and good eating!


  1. I love how industrous our foremothers were when it came to making do with what they had. Your pea patties look quite interesting. I remember my Mom pattying up leftovers a lot when I was a of my favorites was mashed potato patties with whatever veggie was left...sometimes that was circle peas :)


  2. What an interesting recipe. I envy you that cast iron pot! That is a treasure. I hope you are having a wonderful day.

  3. I LOVE my iron skillets... love your post!


  4. My Nonnie saved every smidgen (I will need to explain that to our Northern friends.) of food. She would take a tablespoon of this and then that to make patties of all kinds, and we loved them. They were, of course, fried:) Thanks for sharing. I'm a purple hull pea fan myself. You can have my share of black eyed peas. I would love for you to visit me for Crock Pot Wednesday.

  5. Charlene, I have been skulking all over your blog and reading these wonderful recipes and wrote quite a few down!!! Thank you for visiting my blog, because it led me to yours!!

    I am SO NOT a cook, but I do try!!

    I will be back!! I'm following!

    Lou Cinda :)

  6. Yum. Sounds like a super idea for lunch!


  7. Your pea patties look yummy, I will have to admit that I ahve never heard of them before reading this on your blog :) I wanted to share a few EASY recipes with you and your readers if anyone might be interested.