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  • Cooking with Hope: Enjoying a favorite early vegetable

  • Peas are one of my favorite vegetables and I add them to so many different dishes. They add a nice flavor and a beautiful bright green color to the recipe. Peas are fat free with "0" saturated fat and 3 grams of fiber for every half cup with only 65 calories a serving. They can be eaten raw or cooked and can be easily frozen ...
  • Peas are one of my favorite vegetables and I add them to so many different dishes. They add a nice flavor and a beautiful bright green color to the recipe. Peas are fat free with "0" saturated fat and 3 grams of fiber for every half cup with only 65 calories a serving. They can be eaten raw or cooked and can be easily frozen for ready use. The natural sugars in peas start to break down as soon as they are picked, so it’s best to use them as soon as possible freeze them or refrigerate for up to 4 days.
    For fresh peas, also called English peas or garden peas, look for bright green pods that are unshriveled and free of brown spots. Pods should feel firm and practically pop when snapped in half. Store tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. There are three types of tender peas: English peas, which must be shelled before eating; thin, crisp snow peas that can be eaten pod and all; and snap peas which are sweet and can be eaten shell and all. Many markets sell already shelled English peas which are a big time saver. The pods from the English peas can be cooked in boiling salted water to make a vegetable stock for soups and gravies; freeze into ice cubes for future use.
    To prepare fresh peas shell them and wash in cold water. To get the most flavor from them put in boiling water just enough to cover them well and keep them from burning. Boil for about 15-20 minutes, by then the water should be nearly boiled out; season with salt and fresh ground black pepper, and lots of butter; serve very hot. This way of cooking them keeps the sweetness and fine flavor of the peas instead of pouring off the flavorful juices. Salt should only be put on peas after they are cooked to prevent them from getting hard.
    To quickly and lightly cook peas: boil shelled English peas in water until they are bright green but still pop when you bite them, about 3 minutes. Snap and snow peas can be blanched or sauteed for about 2-3 minutes, which will keep them crisp.
    Helpful Hint: - One pound of English peas in a pod yields about 1 cup shelled peas.
    - To quickly shell peas, split open a pod and run your thumb down its length.
    All-Purpose Pea Sauce
    Good to use over grilled steaks, pork or lamb chops, or poached salmon, and even chicken cutlets. For an added treat add it to a cream sauce with pasta and Parmesan cheese. This sauce adds a delightful taste to many recipes.
    Makes about 2 cups.
    2  cups fresh peas
    Page 2 of 4 - 3  scallions, sliced
    1/2 cup butter
    1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
    1  tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
    Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
    Cook peas in boiling water, just enough to cover, for about 10 minutes with scallions and butter over medium heat until scallions are soft and peas are a bright green and crisp tender. Add lemon juice and fresh parsley.
    Snow Pea Salad with Cherry Tomatoes
    4  ounces fresh snow peas, thinly sliced into shreds
    1  pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
    1/2 sweet yellow pepper or banana pepper, chopped
    3  scallions, thinly sliced lengthwise, light parts only
    1  garlic clove, minced
    2  tablespoons champagne, rice or white vinegar
    2  teaspoons granulated sugar
    3  teaspoons olive oil
    Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
    In a large bowl whisk together garlic, vinegar, sugar, olive oil, salt and black pepper, to taste. Toss in tomatoes, peppers, and scallions, mixing well, then gently toss in snow peas and toss to mix. Refrigerate for about an hour before serving.
    Peas with Tortellini, Sausage, and Spinach Soup
    Serves 4
    8  cups chicken broth or stock
    1/2 pound Italian sweet sausage, cut into coins and browned
    15  ounces fresh cheese tortellini
    1 1/2  cups fresh or frozen peas
    2  cups fresh baby spinach, trimmed and coarsely chopped
    Salt and fresh ground black pepper
    Shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
    In a skillet brown sausage coins and set aside on paper towels to drain.
    In a large pot bring broth or stock to a boil over medium high heat. Add tortellini and cook for 3-minutes less than the package instructions. Add peas and spinach and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes, season with salt and pepper. Serve with Parmesan cheese.
    Fettuccine with Peas, Onions, and Parsley
    1  9-ounce package refrigerated fettuccine
    2  tablespoons EVOO, olive oil
    1  small sweet onion, coarsely chopped
    1  cup frozen peas or fresh cooked peas
    1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
    1/4 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
    Prepare fettuccine according to package directions, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water.
    In a skillet heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and cook until golden, stir in peas, cooking for 1-2 minutes until heated through, season with salt and pepper. Add reserved cooking water, parsley leaves and cheese, stir gently. Toss fettuccine with pea mixture, serve hot.
    Snow Peas and Shrimp Paella
    Page 3 of 4 - Serves 4
    2  cups chicken broth
    1  teaspoon saffron or turmeric
    1  tablespoon EVOO, olive oil
    1/2 pound sausage or Italian sausage or kielbasa, cut in 1/4 inch coins
    1 1/3 cups long grain rice
    1  8-ounce bottle clam juice
    4  ounces snow peas, trimmed and cut diagonally
    1  pound fresh raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
    1  dozen Cherry Stone clams (Optional)
    Heat broth in a saucepan over medium heat, add saffron and reduce heat to low to keep warm.
    Add olive oil to a large deep skillet over medium high heat and sauté sausage until just starting to brown. Add the rice to the skillet and stir to coat with the oil.
    Add the broth and clam juice and bring to a boil.
    Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Uncover and add the snow peas and shrimp, pushing the shrimp down into the rice. Add more broth if the rice looks too dry.
    Cover and cook until the shrimp just turn pink, about 3-4 minutes, add clams and cover and cook until they just open about 3-4 minutes. Serve.
    Peas with Fried Rice, Mushrooms, and Onions
    3  tablespoons canola oil
    1  pound button mushrooms, sliced
    2  cloves garlic, minced and smashed
    1  medium sweet or Vidalia onion, coarsely chopped
    2  cups long grain rice, cooked in chicken broth
    1/4 cup low salt soy sauce
    1  cup frozen peas, thawed, or cooked fresh peas
    1  teaspoon sesame seed oil
    Prepare rice according to package directions, using chicken broth for the liquid instead of water, yielding 2 cups of rice.
    In a non-stick frying pan or wok heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium- high heat. Add mushrooms, cook stirring frequently for 4-5 minutes. Remove and place mushrooms on a plate, set aside.
    Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in pan over medium heat, add garlic and onions, stir for a minute then increase heat to high and sauté for 3 minutes, add cooked rice, soy sauce, reserved cooked mushrooms, and gently toss in peas; cook gently stirring for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sesame seed oil and serve.
    Pea Salad
    2  6-ounce packages frozen peas, thawed, or cooked fresh peas
    12  slices smoked bacon, crisply cooked and chopped
    1  cup raisins
    1  8-ounce package Cheddar cheese, shredded
    1  medium Vidalia or sweet onion, chopped
    1/2 cup sunflower seeds (Optional)
    1  cup mayonnaise
    1/4 cup sour cream
    2  tablespoons champagne, rice or white vinegar
    Page 4 of 4 - 2  teaspoons granulated sugar
    Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
    In a large serving bowl toss together Cheddar cheese, onion, raisins, and bacon, mix well. Then gently toss in together peas and sunflower seeds (Optional).
    In a bowl whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper, to taste. Pour over pea salad and gently toss to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
    Easy Frozen -Tasty Peas
    2  cups water
    2  cups frozen green peas
    2  tablespoons sweet onion, minced
    1  stalk celery, diced (Optional)
    1/4  teaspoon dried rosemary
    Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
    Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan and add peas, onion, and celery. Cook about 5 minutes until peas are crisp-tender. Drain, add rosemary and pepper and toss gently, add butter if desired. Serve hot.
    Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival, winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012, and placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing; and has won various other contest awards for her blueberry cheesecake, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead. 

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