If you're anything like me, you've probably seen green peas more often in the freezer case than in the produce aisle. But, green peas are in season right now, and the fresh ones are NOTHING like the flash frozen kind. Sweet even raw, peas are a great addition to a great variety of dishes... provided you have a few helping hands to shell them!
What Are Green Peas?
Peas are botanically the fruit of Pisum sativum, though in cooking, they're considered to be a vegetable. The plant itself lives one year and can be planted any time between winter and early summer, depending on where you are and the weather in your region. Peas have been a common food for centuries, with the earliest known samples being found dating from 4800 BC. In the Middle Ages, matured, dried peas -- similar to today's split peas -- were used for things like pease porridge and pea soup.
How Do I Use Them?
Green peas have a slightly sweet flavor and a beautiful green color. Use them in recipes where these qualities shine! Peas go really well with mint, and they're delicious with just a bit of melted butter, salt and black pepper. Of course, you can get a bit more complicated. I love serving peas as a side dish with lamb, like these Spiced Lamb Chops with Smashed Peas. For a few of our other favorites, try these:
Image: Kari Soderholm