This month we’ve been fortunate to have English peas in our bins. These harbingers of Spring are not only yummy, but they’re quick to cook and incredibly versatile.
Tips for handling, storing and using English peas
Tip #1: One pound of peas in their pods yields about 6 ounces (1 cup) of shelled peas.
Tim #2: Don’t throw away the pods.
Save the empty pods for making a simple pea broth, which you can use to enhance the flavor of soups, stews and sauté. To make a broth, put the pods in a large pot and cover with water by at least 1 inch. Add a pinch of salt (optional) and a roughly chopped onion. Simmer for about 25 minutes, strain, and then discard the pods. The broth will keep for two days in the refrigerator or for about a month in the freezer.
Tip #3: Shucking peas from their pods is easy when done right
- Remove the stem end of the pod
- Peel the stringy fiber from the seam
- Pry the pod open
- Run your thumb along the interior to detach the peas
Tip #4: Use them quickly or freeze them
Once picked, peas’ high sugar content changes, causing them to lose much of their sweetness and become starchy and dull. You will want to prep them as soon as possible after you pick up your bin. 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, if you’re not going to eat them quickly, 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.
Uses for English Peas
English peas are versatile. They lend themselves to almost any cooking method, from boiling and steaming to sautéing, stir-frying, and quick-braising. They can be the star of a side dish or blended in a soup (option 4 below) or briefly blanched and tossed into rice, risottas, and stews.
Option 1: Sweet and Natural
Just barely blanch them in boiling water to draw out their sweet flavor and keep them tender. Then keep them handy in the fridge for sprinkling on salads.
Option 2: English Traditional
Blanch them in boiling water with chopped fresh mint and a generous gob of butter.
Option 3: Crunchy Pea Croutons
Why limit your crouton toppings to just bread? Try roasting English peas as a crunchy crouton for spring salads.
Option 4: A Wonderfully Delicious Soup Base
Check out our recipe for recipe for English Pea Soup. Top it with Crunch Pea Croutons in option 3.
Option 5: Add To a Fast Weeknight Pasta Dish
Toss English Peas in with penne, shrimp and basil for a quick meal. Start by preparing your pasta per package instructions. Toss in your English peas at the last two minutes. While the pasta is cooking, sauté minced shallot in a bit of olive oil. Then, when shallot is translucent, add some grated lemon zest, followed by tossing in some pre-cooked shrimp to warm them. When you drain the pasta, retain some of the water. Add the pasta and peas to the shallots and shrimp, along with a bit of the pasta water and a fresh squeeze of lemon juice.