Ancient Roman Peas


Overcooked legumes, mashed and mixed with other ingredients, are very common in ancient and medieval cuisine. In De Re Coquinaria, the source we are using for this recipe, there are several methods for legumes, mainly collected in the 5th book titled, indeed, Ospreon, from the Greek term for legumes, osprion. From this book, we prepared in the past mashed peas with meatballs and fava beans.
This time, we present a very simple recipe for cold mashed peas that recalls traditional Middle-Eastern hummus, prepared with just onion (probably raw, since the author usually specifies if it has to be pre-cooked), egg (with the white added to the mash and the yolk sprinkled on top), vinegar as an acidifier, salt (but with garum it would be even tastier), and olive oil added two times.
The second time, the author recommends using oleum viridem, the best quality of olive oil available in ancient Rome, equivalent to our extra virgin olive oil. However, if you use extra virgin olive oil two times, surely you don’t go wrong.
This dish is a good pairing with meat or fish plates. Being a cool food, we especially recommend it in summer with an ofella, shrimp cakes, or octopus. We tried it with the ancient Sicilian sea bass we presented two weeks ago. Despite the fact that we are not sure that the latter plate was a kind of preparation still used at the times of the Roman Empire, this pairing turned out delicious (and a bit heavy on the stomach).
For the egg yolk, we used a grater, but you can use a sieve. The intention of the author, as we interpreted it, is that we have to sprinkle the egg yolk to finish the plate without forming lumps.
We used dry peas, but the author writes nothing about it. If you prefer, use fresh peas. The cooking time, in this case, will be very short.

To know more about foods in ancient Rome, check out our book Ancient Roman Cooking. Ingredients, Recipes, Sources (Italian edition here), available on Amazon in e-book and printed editions. On our Patreon page, you find articles about historical foods and translations of ancient and medieval sources of cooking and dietetics, among which the first three books of De Re Coquinaria.
If you are interested in medieval foods, check out our new book, with the translation (into English and Italian) and a commentary of the Registrum Coquine, written in the 15th century by Johannes Bockenheim.
To support our work, you can buy us a beer or purchase our merchandise.

100 gr dry peas
¼ onion
1 egg
extra virgin olive oil

Overcook the peas in water for about 30 minutes, then mash them with the spoon. Place the pot in cool water, then stir again.
Hard-boil an egg and separate the white and the yolk. Mince one-quarter of onion and an egg white. Mix the peas with the onion, egg white, olive oil, salt, and a bit of vinegar. Plate and add on top the egg yolk sifted or grated, pouring extra virgin olive oil.

Original text
Pisam coques, agitabis et mittis in frigidam. Cum refrigeraverit, denuo agitabis. Concidis cepam minutatim et albamentum ovi, oleo et sale condies, aceti modicum adicies. In boletari vitellum ovi cocti colas, insuper oleum viride mittis et inferes.

Cook the peas, stir, and place them in cool water. When they are refrigerated, stir again. Mince an onion finely with an egg white, season with oil and salt, add a bit of vinegar. Arrange in the plate the cooked yolk, pour over extra virgin olive oil, and serve.

Buy me a coffee
Ancient Roman Recipes Playlist
Ancient Greek Recipes Playlist
Medieval Recipes Playlist
YouTube Channel

Registrum Coquine by Johannes Bockenheim. A medieval cookbook
Ancient Roman Cooking. Ingredients, Sources, Recipes

Translations of Historical Sources
De Re Coquinaria by Apicius – books 1-3
De Observatione Ciborum by Anthimus (6th century)
Appendicula de Condituris Variis by Johannes Damascenus (8-9th century)
De Flore Dietarum (11th century)
Opusculum de Saporibus by Mainus de Maineris (14th century)
Anonimo Veneziano – first and second part (14th century)
Registrum Coquine by Johannes von Bockenheim (15th century)

Cuttlefish and Eggs
Gustum de Praecoquis – Appetizer with Apricots
Octopus and Cucumber Salad
Copadia Agnina – Lamb Stew
Apothermum – Spelt Cakes
Pullus Parthicus – Roast Chicken
Tisana Barrica – Barley Soup
Beef Roast and Shallots
Staitites – Ancient Greek Sweet
Chicken Meatballs and Mashed Peas
Sweet Fritters – Dulcia Domestica
Columella’s Moretum and Hapalos Artos
Ancient Roman Frittata
A Saturnalia Recipe – Roast with Saffron Sauce
Muria – Ancestor of Colatura di Alici
Globi – Ancient Roman Sweet
The Diet of the Roman Legionaries – Buccellatum, Lardum, and Posca
How to make garum
Fig Sweet
Ancient Roman Gourd and Eggs
Ofella – Ancient Roman Steak
Fruit salads – Melon and Peaches
Isicia Marina – Shrimp Cakes and Cucumber Salad
Sala Cattabia – Snow and Posca
Copadia – Beef Stew
Puls Punica – Phoenician Dessert
Farcimina – Spelt and Meat Sausages
Ova Spongia ex Lacte – Sweet Omelettes
Flatbread and Chickpea Soup
Chicken stew
Salted Fish with Arugula Sauce
Savillum – Cheesecake
Pasta and Meatballs – Minutal Terentinum
Venison Stew with Spelt Puls
Veal with Allec Sauce – Ius in Elixam Allecatum
Isicia Omentata – Meatballs Wrapped in Caul Fat
Placenta – Honey Cheesecake
Pork Laureate – Porcellum Laureatum
Mashed Chestnuts
Poppy Seed Bread with Ancient Dry Yeast
Cured Olives and Epityrum