Spring has sprung and along with it comes a fun little vegetable: the delicious spring pea. Spring peas are one of the foods that taste best in season, so get some of these bright green guys right now to most fully enjoy what they have to offer.
There are a few different options you have to choose from when it comes to spring peas: garden peas, snow peas and snap peas.
Garden peas, arguably the most well known variety, have to be shelled before eating. It takes a bit of enjoyable effort, and is a great way to appreciate your food. Plus, it gives the family something to do that doesn't involve the computer or cell phones. When you do decide to shell your own peas, make sure to do so right before cooking in order to get the most out of the flavor.
Snow and snaps peas both come in pods that are edible. Garden peas can be found from spring to the beginning of winter, while sugar peas snap peas are found from late spring until early summer. All the different varieties of peas are packed with vitamin C, vitamin B1 and vitamin K. With each cooked cup at weighing in at 125 calories, they make a delightful addition to any spring meal.
Once purchased, all varieties of peas need to be eaten as soon as possible, as they will lose their sweetness quickly. If you have to store them, store them in a loosely sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for no more than a couple of days.
Peas can be boiled, sautéed, or steamed, or even baked. Snap peas can be eaten as they are for a healthy crunchy fun snack, while cooked shelled peas can be added to anything you wish, including pastas, rice, soups, casseroles, or salads. If you want to try something new, the next time you want to prepare some guacamole, try substituting mashed peas into the recipe instead of avocado.
The following is a very simple, easy to make salad recipe that lets the little peas shine in all their glory.
Fresh 3 Spring Pea Salad Recipe
1 cup snap peas
1 cup snow peas, halved crosswise
2 cups fresh garden peas (shelled)
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 small shallot crushed or minced
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
Freshly ground pepper
1. Boil a large saucepan of salted water. Prepare a large bowl of ice water that is big enough to hold the cooked peas.
2. While the water boils, mix the sour cream, shallot, and vinegar in a separate large bowl. Now whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
3. Add the sugar snap peas to the boiling water and blanch for 20 seconds and remove. Then add the snow peas and cook for 20 more seconds. Remove the large saucepan from heat, and add the fresh garden peas. After about 15 seconds, drain the peas through a colander, and then transfer the peas to the ice water to stop them from cooking.
4. Drain the peas again, and then add them to the prepared dressing. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Top with a spritz of lemon juice, toss and serve.
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Image: Dayna McIsaac