Lathyrus sativus, is a legume commonly grown for human consumption and livestock feed in Asia and East Africa. It is a particularly important crop in areas that are prone to drought and famine, and is thought of as an 'insurance crop' as it produces reliable yields when all other crops fail. The seeds contain a neurotoxin that causes a neurodegenerative disease when the seeds are consumed as a primary protein source for a prolonged period.
This Seed is sold for human consumption at markets in Florence. Consumption of this pulse in Italy is limited to some areas in the middle part of the country, and is steadily declining.
Flour made from grass peas is the main ingredient for the gachas manchegas or gachas de almorta. Accompaniments for the dish vary throughout La Mancha. This is an ancient Manchego cuisine staple, generally consumed during the cold winter months. The dish is generally eaten directly out of the pan it was cooked in, using either a spoon or a simple slice of bread. This dish is commonly consumed immediately after removing it from the fire, being careful not to burn one's lips or tongue.
Grass pea flour is exceedingly difficult to obtain outside of Castile-La Mancha, especially in its pure form. Commercially available almorta flour is mixed with wheat flour due to the fact that grass peas are toxic if consumed in significantly large quantities for prolonged periods of time.