Fresh Green Peas

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Fresh green peas are starting to show up at the Farmer’s Market and Roadsides stands. Be sure to add the delicious bean to your menus while they are fresh and available. When picking out your peas, for best flavor, choose small peas, which are younger, sweeter, and more tender than large ones, and make sure they’re as fresh as possible. Once picked, peas’ high sugar content changes, causing them to lose much of their sweetness and become starchy and dull. When pods are firm and green you know that the pea is fresh, try to avoid any wilting or yellow color. Medium sized pods are the best; if they are too large the pods and the peas will be tough. The peas inside should be small, bright green, and firm; if you taste one, it should be tender and sweet.

Peas don’t have much of a shelf life, so if you don’t use them soon, freeze them. Store pods in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator and use them within a couple of days. Once they’re shelled, the best way to store peas is to freeze them. First, blanch them for a minute or two in boiling salted water and then shock them in an ice-water bath until cool, to help maintain their bright color. Drain and freeze them in zip-top bags. They will keep for five to six months.

Peas have come a long way since the school lunchroom days of “peas and square carrots”,  give these unique pea recipes a try;

Butter Peas and Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ medium sized sweet onion, sliced
  • 2 cups fresh green peas (you can use frozen, thaw them)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. Melt butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add mushrooms and onion and cook until the mushrooms are golden.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Turn heat down. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Uncover, turn heat up and cook 2 more minutes.

Serves 6.

Mockamole (Green pea guacamole)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh peas
  • ¼ cup water
  • ⅔ cup sour cream
  • 1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Dash or 2 of hot sauce, to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup tomato, finely diced
  • ¼ cup onion, diced
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh copped cilantro

Directions

  1. In a medium sized saucepan cook peas and water for about 2 minutes, until heated through. Drain.
  2. Place peas in food processor. Add remaining ingredients, except for tomato and onion.
  3. Process until smooth. Stir in tomato and onion until well blended.
  4. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 to 2 hours. Can be used as a dip or sauce.

Bacon and Green Pea Salad

Ingredients

For the salad

  • 6 strips bacon, cooked and cut into small pieces
  • 4 cups fresh green peas
  • ½ small red onion
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Salt & pepper to taste

For the dressing

  • ¾ cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Directions

  1. Add your peas to a colander and rinse them under cool water. Let them drain thoroughly. Meanwhile, fry the bacon. I cut it up using kitchen shears to make this process easy. Once it’s done, drain the fat.
  2. Make the dressing by combining the dressing ingredients in a bowl and mixing until it’s smooth. I suggest playing with the ingredients to get the exact flavor combo you want (e.g. more adobo sauce or lemon juice etc.).
  3. Add all ingredients to a large salad bowl and toss with the dressing. Season with salt & pepper as needed. I recommend chilling for an hour or so before serving to let the flavors meld a bit.

Quick and Easy Sautéed Asparagus and Peas

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus, chopped
  • 3 cups fresh peas
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon local honey

Directions

  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion to pan and sauté for a minute or two, until soft and fragrant (talk about the best smell ever)!
  2. Add asparagus to the pan and cook, stirring every so often to keep from burning, until cooked through and slightly golden brown on the outside. Add peas and sauté just a few minutes until cooked.
  3. Stir in honey until well mixed.

Peas, Zucchini and Pesto Orzo

(Adapted from recipetineats)

Ingredients

  • ⅔ cup whole grain orzo
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 ½ tablespoons basil pesto
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 cups zucchini, divided
  • 1 cup fresh green peas
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Place about 8 cups of water in a large saucepan and bring to boil.
  2. Add orzo and cook for 4 minutes, then add peas and cook for a further 1 minute. Note: The orzo will be slightly underdone at this point. It will finish cooking in the remaining steps.
  3. Scoop out 1/2 cup of the water from the saucepan, then drain the orzo and set aside until ready to add to the pan.
  4. Heat olive oil in a fry pan over medium high heat.
  5. Add garlic and onion and sauté for 1 minute until starting to soften.
  6. Add zucchini and sauté for a further 2 – 3 minutes until both the zucchini and onion are softened and the onion is starting to turn a light golden brown.
  7. Add pesto, orzo, pasta water reserved in step 3, salt and pepper. Bring the water to a simmer and stir for 1 minute until the water is absorbed.
  8. Serve immediately, garnished with freshly grated Parmesan.

Serves 2.

Couscous and Green Pea Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cooked couscous, cooled
  • 4 cups green peas, frozen
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried red chili flakes
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ¼ cup almonds, sliced
  • ½ cup feta crumbles, plus more for garnish, optional
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped (plus more for garnish, optional)

Directions

  1. Over medium heat, in a large skillet, add one tablespoon of the olive oil along with the onion.
  2. Sauté until the onion is just cooked through – about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and stir into the onions. Sauté for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the frozen peas and stir into the onion and garlic mixture. Sauté for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow peas to completely cool.
  5. In the meantime, whisk together the other tablespoon of olive oil, salt, pepper, vinegar, honey, red chili flakes, and parsley. Set aside.
  6. Add the cooked and cooled couscous, along with the almonds, to the cooled pea and onion mixture. Toss to combine. Pour over the sauce and add the feta crumbles; toss to coat. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Serves 8.