Pea and Asparagus SoupAs a child I knew spring had finally arrived when my grandmother would bring a large bag of fresh green peas into the kitchen, and we would work as a team to shell them. What fun we had! She would blanch them in boiling water and toss them with butter, salt and pepper. She loved to throw them on fresh greens tossed with vinaigrette or her special mayonnaise, or add them to her homemade potato salad. Sometimes she would purée them into soup and add a splash of cream. This Pea and Asparagus Soup would have made my grandmother very happy!
Fresh peas come in and out of season very quickly. Once they are harvested, you’ll want to eat them as soon as possible because the longer they sit around, the less sweet and tender they are. Remember, they’re best when their pods are firm and green. The smaller peas are generally sweeter, so choose medium-sized pods with smaller, firm peas. The larger and thicker the pod, the more tough and mature the peas inside; these are good for slow simmering in stews and soups.
If you are not planning to eat your fresh peas within a few days, you can easily freeze them for later use. Simply blanch shelled peas in boiling water for a couple of minutes (they will be a beautiful bright green color when they’re ready), then shock them in ice cold water to quickly cool them. Drain and dry them, then store in a freezer-safe resealable plastic bag.
Spring Chicken SaladIf you’ve never had fresh peas, you’re going to love our easy-peasy ideas and recipes, starting with this light and delicious Spring Chicken Salad, perfect as a sandwich filling or an addition to a leafy green salad. While frozen peas are great to keep on hand year round, remember you can use fresh peas in place of frozen peas in most recipes — they are interchangeable. For quick-cooking recipes, start by lightly blanching fresh peas before using. Here are some ideas and recipes:
- Sauté them with assorted colorful vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower, asparagus and leafy greens.
- Serve them as a side dish to meats and tofu or tempeh dishes.
- Add peas to frittatas, omelets and crêpes. Smoked Salmon Crêpes with Creamed Peas make an ideal Easter brunch or special Sunday breakfast.
- Add them to soups or stews. Try this Turkish-style Kofta Soup.
- Toss them into potato, tuna or chicken salad.
- Add them to a favorite coleslaw recipe.
- Combine peas with hot cooked pasta or stir into a risotto dish. Be sure to use some quality extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Confetti Spring Salad is a delicious combination of pasta and assorted spring vegetables.
- Spoon them over leafy greens cooked whole grains, like this Bulgur with Peas and Mint.
- Mix green peas with other varieties of peas like we do in this Spring Chickpea Salad that combines chickpeas with green peas and a creamy cashew nut dressing.
- Simmer them in vegetable broth. Purée with fresh mint for a seasonal soup that can be served hot or cold.
- Stuff them into hot baked potatoes.
- Add them to stir-fry dishes. Spring Peas and Shrimp Stir Fry with Ginger Soy Glaze combines green peas with sugar snap peas and snow peas.
- Basmati Pilaf with Peas and Almonds reminds me of my year in India and the many wonderful basmati rice dishes with green peas, spices, herbs, nuts and more.
- Add to chicken or vegetable potpies. Our Chicken “Pot Pie” with Crunchy Brown Rice Crust is really popular!
Are you a “pass the peas, please” person with a good recipe or a favorite idea? Let me know in the comments below.