In my American South, fresh shelled lady peas, crowders, cream peas — delicate and pearl-shaped — show up at the neighborhood market as a welcome sign of summer. But frozen varieties of these delicious peas are so much more common that I have taken to making mental notes of where I can buy them. At the Forsyths Farmers' Market in Savannah, Georgia, Joseph Fields Farms sells shelled peas in sealed storage bags, sitting in iced coolers. Farmview Market, a local food emporium located in Eatonton, Georgia, stocks their varieties in a refrigerated section alongside Rock House Creamery buttermilk. When I'm in Athens, I stop by Bell's Food Store, a family owned store and country-cooking emporium.
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 3 cups shelled Southern peas, like fresh crowders or lady peas
- 3 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 to 3 cobs)
- 2 cups halved green beans (cut in half on an angle)
- 4 ribs celery, thinly sliced and leaves reserved
- 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 cup full-fat buttermilk, well shaken
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 sprigs thyme, leaves only, for garnish
For the salad:1.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat and add the salt. Fill a large bowl with ice and water and set it next to the stove.2.
Cook the Southern peas in the boiling water for about 25 minutes, or until creamy inside but not mushy, then remove using a mesh sieve and immediately transfer to the ice bath to stop the cooking.3.
Blanch the corn, then the green beans, blanching each for 2 minutes, then transferring to the ice bath.4.
Drain the beans, corn and lady peas in a colander and set aside to cool completely.5.
In a large bowl, combine the cooled bean mixture, the celery, bell pepper and onion. Cover and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
For the dressing:
In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar and honey until well-combined; slowly whisk in buttermilk and sour cream, and then the olive oil, whisking until emulsified and smooth. Then add in the garlic, thyme, black pepper and salt.
Before serving, drizzle 1/4 cup of the dressing around the rim of the bowl and toss to combine. Add more dressing if you like, and garnish with the reserved celery leaves and fresh thyme.