Seasonal Spotlight: English Peas

Who doesn't have memories of sitting with a friend at the kitchen table, or on the balcony, or on the back porch and shelling a big bowl of fresh English peas while sipping a cold drink and chatting?We love shelling fresh peas. There's a zen-like pleasure in reaching in the bowl and feeling a perfectly plump pod, and snapping off the ends, unzipping the pod, and opening it to reveal a row of perfect green spheres. There's satisfaction in taking your thumb and scraping them into a bowl, and checking the bowl every 10 minutes to see it getting fuller, and popping a raw pea in your mouth, feeling the crunch, and tasting the freshness of a green pea.

So when peas start showing up at the farmer's markets, we happily shove them in paper bags, filling them to the brim, and start conjuring up menu ideas. While driving home, we'll reach in the bag and grab a pea pod and eat the peas right there - they make a wonderful snack.

Fresh peas can keep for a few days in the fridge in the produce drawer. We prefer to store them in paper bags instead of plastic bags. It's very easy to shell peas - simply break off one end of the pod, unzip both sides, and scrape the peas in a bowl.

Take care to not overcook fresh peas. They can be lightly steamed and tossed with some olive oil, salt, and pepper if you want them to be crunchy; they can be added to soups, casseroles, and salads.

Some recipes to try:
Saffron Rice with Peas and Cashews
Split Pea Soup

(Image: Kathryn Hill)

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