Friday, September 11, 2015

Seed to Table Series-Pigeon Peas

Patriot Day 2015
"This nation will remain the land of the free
only so long as it is the home of the brave." 
Elmer Davis


Welcome to our Summer Series,
Seed to Table.
Every Friday, we'll explore a different crop
that you can grow in your own garden.
Whether you're in mid-harvest, looking ahead to your fall garden,
 or just thinking about growing your own,
we hope this series inspires you.
We'll begin with planting from seed or seedling,
and end up with a scratch recipe. 


These pigeon peas were gifted to me by someone coming to pick up plants
at one of our giveaways.
Although new to me, 
Sister, having been born in Trinidad,
was quite familiar with them.
They are a staple of the Caribbean diet.

The seeds were planted here in one of our newly established veggie beds in April.
We used direct sowing in our application, 
but this crop also does well in containers. 
We sowed them about an inch deep in our custom soil mix.
It took about a week for the first seedling to emerge. 

It hasn't stopped growing yet.
This West Indian treasure can be grown in zones 9-15
and can soar to 10 feet tall and live for five years.
It thrives in partial or full sun and can tolerate some frost.
In colder climates, it may be grown as an annual. One of the benefits of including this crop in the garden
is that it fixes nitrogen, as do black-eyed peas.

Here's what it looks like this week.
It's been a no-care plant,
making do with minimal watering and thus far, no fertilizing.
This beauty is a great attractor for pollinators
and can be used as a living trellis for other crops.

Last weekend, I noticed these flowers popping up.
That must mean that peas are on their way.
We'll be checking on them daily,
so that we can note the evolution of the plant's cycle.


Pigeon peas can be eaten fresh while still green off the crop,
much as snap or English peas.
Once dried, they must be cooked before eating.
Like any legume, it's best to soak them overnight,
or for at least 6 hours, to make them more digestible.
After soaking, drain the water and cook for 1-1 1/2 hours
with plenty of fresh water and a couple of bay leaves.
These can be used right away, or kept in the freezer for future menu ideas.
These versatile legumes can be used to make dal, 
sprouted for extra nutrition, or ground into a meal. 

Rice with Pigeon Peas

2 C cooked peas
2 1/2 C basmati rice
3 cloves garlic
1 C red or yellow bell pepper
1/2 onion
4 C water
2 T parsley
2 t seasoned salt

Saute garlic, peppers, onion and parsley until tender.
Add peas and seasoned salt to mixture, then add rice.
Add only enough water to cover rice.
Cook over medium heat until water is evaporated.



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