Give peas a chance

Although we take advantage of frozen peas in order to enjoy the legumes year-round, there’s simply nothing that can replace the toothsome snap of a freshly shelled English pea. English peas — also known as shell peas and garden peas — enjoy a short-lived season during late spring and early summer, and they are at their best in May and early June.

For peas that are sweet and crisp, start by looking for shiny, firm, brightly colored pods that feel swollen and heavy. When cooking with English peas, buy much more than you think you will need, as one pound of peas will only equate roughly one cup (one serving) of shelled peas. While it’s ideal to eat garden peas as soon as they’re picked, they can keep for up to three days when wrapped tightly and placed in the coolest part of the refrigerator.

Unlike sugar snap peas or snow peas, the fibrous pods of English peas cannot be eaten (although they can be used to enhance the flavor of vegetable stock). Shell English peas immediately before they’re to be cooked: Break off the stem and pull the fibrous string down the length of the pod. Press each pod between your thumbs and forefingers to open, pushing out the individual peas.

Rinse and drain the peas, discarding pods, stems, and strings.

They can be prepared in a multitude of ways. Make sure not to overcook or use really big, tough ones.

— Courtesy

English Pea Salad

  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 (10 oz.) package frozen peas, thawed and drained
  • 1 c. shredded Cheddar
  • 2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Let cool.

In a medium serving bowl, combine the bacon, peas, cheese, and eggs. Stir in the mayonnaise, lemon juice, and salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Fresh English Pea Soup

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. finely sliced shallots (about 3)
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 lb. shelled fresh sweet peas
  • 1/2 tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/2 tbsp. salt
  • Pinch pepper
  • 1/4 c. half and half or light cream

Heat olive oil in soup pot. Add shallots and garlic and cook over med. Heat until shallots are just wilted. Add 3 1/2 cups water, bring to boil, turn down heat and simmer for 1/2 hour.

Add peas, tarragon, salt and pepper and bring back to boil. Turn down heat and let simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temp. Purée in a blender in batches until very smooth. Force through fine sieve into clean pot, discarding small amount of pea skins left in sieve.

Stir in half and half and add salt if necessary to taste. Can be reheated and served hot or chilled and served cold.


Fresh English Peas

  • 1 lb. tiny peas
  • 2 oz. butter
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. chopped or fresh mint or 1 tsp. dried mint
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook peas in a small amount of boiling, salted water, until tender (if using frozen peas, follow package instructions).

Drain, and set aside.

In another saucepan, heat the butter, and add the peas, mint and sugar.

Cook over low heat for two minutes, tossing gently to mix.

Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.


Sautéed Sugar Snap Peas

  • 1 1/2 lbs. fresh sugar snap peas
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Take the strings and bloom ends off each pea. Wash thoroughly. Note: Use small to medium pods and check them for freshness. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the sugar snap peas, salt and pepper and sauté, tossing occasionally for three to five minutes, until the sugar snap peas are crisp tender.

Place the sugar snap peas in a serving bowl, salt and pepper to taste and serve.