Eat your peas. We're not talking about the mushy kind from a can that you pushed around your plate as a kid, but farm-fresh, tender green peas or sugar snap peas. For an all-too-brief time in spring these green delights abound in the market. They taste so good fresh; it's hard to have the patience to cook them.
The Pea Patch
Because they perish easily in the heat, peas have a very brief season. Growers harvest their crop by May for one of the first garden feasts of the season.
English peas or green peas are the old-fashioned peas we all know from childhood. They are often found frozen or canned, but fresh English peas are something else altogetherwith a scent of spring and a sweet, juicy flavor.
Sugar snap peas are a cross between English peas and snow peas. You can eat the whole thing, pod and all. Sugar snap peas are really best eaten raw or cooked only briefly, so that they maintain their sweet crunchiness.
Peas are the ultimate kid foodsweet, delicious, fun and good for you. They are a fairly good source of vitamins A, B-3 and C, as well as iron. Youngsters love to shell peas and it's a great way to get them involved at mealtime. For more ideas on turning dinner into child's play, check out Making Dinner a Family Affair.
What To Look For
Pick full pea pods that have a brilliant green color and a crisp look. When you open the pod, you should find a row of gleaming, medium-sized peas. Large peas lose their tenderness. Also, avoid pea pods that are yellowing or shriveled, it means the peas inside are old and have begun to turn starchy.
How to Store
Fresh is the name of the game when it comes to peas. Like sweet corn, it's best to eat your peas the same day you buy them at the market. After harvesting, the natural sugar in both vegetables starts converting to starch and the sweetness fades. If you have to store them, put your peas in the refrigerator in a plastic bag, but don't tarry more than a day or so before enjoying them.
Like Peas in a Pod
If there are any peas left uneaten after you wash and shell them, the little green guys partner well with herbs like chives, basil, dill and mint. Also team them with shallots, mushrooms, onions or another spring favorite, asparagus. Finally, fresh peas taste great in pasta and risotto. Here are some FoodFit recipes that showcase peas and will make your taste buds sing.
Celebrate peas with these FoodFit recipes:
Bow Tie Pasta with Peas, Mushrooms and Onions
Risotto with Fresh Peas
Roasted Sugar Snap Peas with Shallots
Spring Chicken Fricassee with Asparagus and Peas
Salmon, Snap Peas and New Potatoes with Mustard Vinaigrette