Whoever said, “Like two peas in a pod” to describe people as being so similar as to be indistinguishable, or nearly so, really sold the English pea short.
A good pea pod worth its weight in chlorophyll will have five to eight peas in it. Seven if you’re lucky!
With their bright green color and cute pinchably round shapes all snuggled together in their pods, one can’t help but be reminded of springtime and all things fresh and young. And alas, here we are in spring, the peak season for English peas. Through the shrinking of the world food globe, English peas are available more or less year round with a few weather related gaps.
Don’t try to eat their tough, inedible pod.
That was built to protect the sweet peas inside. Instead pinch off the tip and pull the thread that runs along the side, as if you were unzipping the pod. Open the pod and finesse the peas out into your prep bowl until you have enough for your recipe. This might take a while to accumulate the amount you need, but it is a labor of love; and if enjoyed soon after the harvest, the “fruits of your labor” are well worth it! Because the closer to the harvest, the sweeter the pea. With the passage of time, those sugars naturally convert to starch, and we don’t want that. As with everything in produce, fresh is best!
Peas can be enjoyed lightly steamed and served simply.
They also take very well to the rich flavors of butter, cream and rendered pork products such as bacon and pancetta. Fulfil your life’s meaning by bringing all of these magical ingredients – butter, cream and pancetta – together in risotto with morel mushrooms, another harbinger of spring.
Can we all just pause a moment to mentally taste that? I literally just salivated. (…us too Francy…)
Peas are a great source of protein, and in response to some of today’s special dietary needs, there’s even some plant-based milks being made from them. Peas are a good vegetarian source of protein without the lactose and cholesterol that accompany regular milk.
New mothers can boil peas until tender and puree into wholesome, fresh baby food for their young ones, thus dodging the army green substance found in jars. My particular young one would put this on her face, her hands, her bib, and the high chair table, but not in her mouth. It’s okay though. She made me this Mother’s Day drawing, from when she was pinchably cute and round too!
Peas are generally available year round with some gapping in summer and late autumn. They are at their best in the spring.
Content provided by Francy Deskin, the Specialties Coordinator for FreshPoint South Florida. She has spent 20+ years in kitchens, including as an Executive Chef, and she loves all things food. Follow FreshPoint South Florida on Facebook and Instagram.
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