If you're only familiar with peas as the mushy green globules found in cans, it's time to broaden your horizons. Fresh green peas, newly shelled and gently boiled, bear so little resemblance to the canned product that they might as well be a different species. You'll be amazed at just how versatile the humble pea can be.
Delicious Pea Recipes
If you really want to savor the flavor of peas, give these recipes a try. The pea salad is perfect for a summer potluck, and the soup will warm your soul on a chilly day.
Cold Pea Salad
- 1 16-ounce bag of frozen peas, slightly thawed
- 1 cup of real bacon bits
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups light mayo, to taste
- Pour the frozen peas into a colander and run cold water over them to thaw.
- Allow the peas to drain for 5 minutes.
- While the peas are draining, combine the mayo, onions and bacon bits in a large bowl.
- Add the drained peas, and gently stir until all the ingredients are mixed well.
- Transfer the pea salad to a serving bowl, cover and chill in the refrigerator for one hour to let the flavors meld before serving.
Split Pea with Ham Soup
- 8 cups water
- 16 ounces of split peas
- 1 ham hock
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 stalk of celery, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground thyme
- Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- Combine the water, ham hock and peas in a soup pot, and bring to a boil
- Reduce to a simmer, and add the carrots, onion, celery and garlic. Stir occasionally.
- Simmer until the ham hock is tender enough to remove the fat and clean the meat off the bone.
- Return the meat to the pot, and add the turmeric and thyme.
- Continue to simmer another 10 minutes or until the soup reaches your desired consistency.
- Add salt and pepper to suite your taste.
Different Peas for Different Recipes
The kind of peas you'll use depends on what your recipes call for and how the recipes are made. Each type has its own unique texture and flavor.
The shelled peas are sold fresh, canned or frozen. Lightly boil or steam freshly shelled peas until they're tender, but be careful not to overcook them. Frozen peas make a great addition to many recipes. Frozen or canned peas can easily be heated as a quick side dish for nearly any meal.
Fresh Pea Pods
The edible pea pod is a relatively recent addition to Western cooking, imported from the East. The edible pea pod is picked when very young, before the seeds (the peas) have become very large. The pods and the tiny peas within are sweet and crispy and should be very lightly fried just to heat through. You can also eat them completely raw, perhaps paired with an Asian-inspired dipping sauce or salad dressing.
Dried peas, also known as split peas, are another option. Those that have matured enough to be dried have lost their sweetness and have taken on a different character. Dried peas are more starchy and filling.
Dried peas work best in classic split pea soup seasoned with ham or bacon and garnished with shredded carrots. Pair the soup with a dark dense bread such as pumpernickel, and you don't need to add anything else to make a satisfying meal.