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Making perfect peas please! Chef Jef's favorite tips for preparing garden peas

3 min read

Peas being shelled for blog

Peas are a perfect vegetable. They're easy to grow, a great source for zinc, vitamins C & E, and high in antioxidants. Plus, they freeze extremely well so you can grow tons of peas and enjoy them all year long.


One of the best things about peas is that they are great as their own side dish but their size and versatility make them a perfect addition to stir frys and all sorts of other dishes. Tossing a handful of frozen peas into the pan with whatever else your cooking is a great way to get some extra veggies into your diet.


One of my favorite ways to eat peas is to make them into a salad/side dish with lots of fresh herbs, a bright vinaigrette, and a nice salty cheese. You can add whatever you like so this is more of a guideline than a recipe. Experiment!

Here's what you'll need:


- blanched peas, chilled but not super cold

- your favorite salad dressing

- your favorite herbs, I used a lot of mint. It's pretty classic with peas but this can be anything you like.

- ricotta salata (or any other hard grating cheese, parm is great)

- honey (optional)


I like to serve and eat this cool but not super cold.


Place the peas in a large bowl and add just enough dressing to coat them. Pick the herbs and give them a rough chop. I really love dill, basil, and mint in this and I like leaving about half of the mint leaves whole. It adds a really nice texture. Use a vegetable peeler to shave about half of the ricotta salata. Add this into the bowl with the peas along with the herbs. season with salt and a good amount of black pepper. Toss to coat and then transfer to a serving dish. At this point I like to drizzle the top with a little honey. It balances nicely with the fat from the cheese and the acidity of the vinaigrette. I use a very bright and acidic vinaigrette that is not sweetened. We'll have a recipe for that coming soon...

 


Have some leftover peas? Here's how to freeze them

Our kids usually eat them all right off the vines so we don't have many left to freeze but if you've got them, here's a great way to do it. First, shuck them. then get a large pot, fill it with water and bring it to a boil. Salt the water, it should be salty, more than you think, more than that. It should taste like the ocean. While you're waiting for it to come to a boil you'll also need to prepare a large bowl or container with ice water. Once the pot is boiling add your shucked peas in small batches so that the water doesn't get too cold. Blanch the peas for about 30-45 seconds. remove from the boiling water and immediately transfer to the ice bath to stop the cooking. If you have a strainer that can fit into the pot it is helpful for these steps. When the water has returned to a boil, blanch the next batch and continue until all of your peas are blanched. Remove all of your peas from the ice bath, drain well, and spread out in a single layer onto a sheet pan that will fit into your freezer. I like to line this with parchment or a silpat but it's not necessary. Freeze for a few hours until solid and then transfer to a bag or other container and store in the freezer until ready to use. 

Bowl of peas


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