Cooking with Hope: Enjoying a favorite early vegetable

Hope Cusick

Hope Cusick

Published: Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 02:54 PM.

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.



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