How to make ervilhas com ovos escalfados (green peas with poached eggs)

Flavours of home is a series of recipes from around the world cooked by people at home in Otago. This week Célia Mendes from Portugal shows us how to make ervilhas com ovos escalfados (green peas with poached eggs).

Celia Mendes grew up in Portugal, and now teaches Portuguese at the University of Otago.

As a child she helped her mother in the kitchen.

Portuguese food is about good olive oil, onion, garlic and a little meat or fish, she says.

Because of wars and years under a dictatorship, Portuguese people had to make do with what they could grow.

On the coast they ate fish and inland they ate offal, which they turned into tasty things like chorizo, as most of the meat was exported, she says.

Ervilhas com ovos escalfados, green peas with poached eggs and chorizo, is a typical dish eaten all over the country and found in many restaurants.

This is a dish of poor people.

You can feed your family with peas, eggs and a bit of chorizo for flavour and you can use broad beans, potatoes or peppers if you have no peas, she says.

Chorizo is expensive here but you only need a small piece to flavour the stew.

Ms Mendes uses less than half a chorizo and that's about twice as much as her mother would use, she says.

When she was a child it took a long time to make this dish as you had to clean and sort through the rice to remove any stones and you had to pod the peas, she says.

However, here it's a quick, easy and very tasty dish for lunch or dinner, taking about 20 minutes to cook.


Ervilhas com ovos escalfados (Green peas with poached eggs) 

For four people

1/2 onion
2-4 cloves of garlic
olive oil
a piece of Spanish or Portuguese chorizo, or other spicy sausage
1/2 can chopped tomatoes or very ripe fresh tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 kg plain frozen peas (not sweet or minted)
4 eggs or more (at least one per person)
1 bunch coriander

Generously cover the bottom of a pot with olive oil, add chopped onion and peeled and chopped garlic.

Cook gently until translucent.

Slice the piece of chorizo thinly - it is to give flavour rather than add a meat content.

Add to the pot and stir until some of the colour comes out and the aroma rises.

Add half a can of chopped tomatoes and the bay leaves.

Stir and continue to cook until all is juicy.

Add frozen or fresh peas and stir to coat with the juices, then add hot water almost to cover.

Add the bunch of coriander and push into the stew.

The coriander will be removed later.

Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally When the peas are almost done, check the seasoning and consistency.

If you want to thicken the sauce with a little flour mixed with some of the liquid or reduce the sauce or adjust the seasoning, do it now, as once the eggs are in you can't stir.

Remove coriander and bay leaves and stir well.

With the help of a wooden spoon (a technique Célia's mother taught her), add the eggs one by one.

Put a wooden spoon in the mix, break an egg alongside it, and carefully lift the spoon out so the egg is buried in the peas.

Repeat until all the eggs are in the stew, being careful to put each egg in a different part of the stew.

Simmer for another 7-10 minutes depending on how you like your eggs cooked.

Serve with rice, making sure each person gets an egg.


1/2 onion
1-2 cloves garlic
olive oil
1 cup long grain rice
2 cups cold water

Chop onion and peel and chop the garlic and cook slowly in olive oil until soft and translucent.

Wash the rice in cold water and add to the pot.

Stir to coat the grains and cook for a minute or two so the rice absorbs the oil, garlic and onion.

Add a cup of cold water and bring to the boil.

When boiling, add another cup of cold water.

When it comes to the boil again, put the lid on the pot and turn the heat down low.

Let it cook for a few minutes, then when most of the water has been absorbed, turn the heat off, and leave the rice, with the lid on, to absorb the rest of the water for 5-10 minutes.



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