What are Peas?
I’ll tell you what they are not… a vegetable.
Yup, peas are legumes, same as peanuts, beans and lentils. They grow inside a pod and on a vine. Once the pods are filled with peas, they are then shelled, and the peas are removed for consumption.
Edible peas are a massive market with over 35,000 hectares grown in the UK and about 160,000 hectares in the US! It is a multi-million-dollar industry and such a staple in many households.
What Are the Different Types of Peas?
There are 3 main types of peas that we all consume:
Garden pea: This is the common variety of peas that we eat today. Of all the 3 types of peas, garden peas are eaten on its own without the pods as they are too stringy.
As the most common variety is eaten without the pods, shelling them becomes a bit of a task. I guess that’s why frozen peas are so popular. Buying fresh peas out of the pod is so expensive!
Fun fact: garden peas are green because they are picked before they mature. Otherwise, they are yellow when ripe.
Snow peas: Snow peas are the flat variety with the pod being a little translucent and not stringy. They are crunchy. However, the peas or seeds are tiny and not as round and plump as the garden variety.
Sugar snap peas: These peas look like they have been inflated and about to burst! The pod is slightly shiny, curved and is edible. They give off a good crunch when you bite into them.
Why Are Frozen Peas Better Than Fresh Peas?
Besides being useful as an ice pack to reduce swelling after an injury, frozen peas are actually better than fresh peas.
Fresh peas can get a floury texture after they are picked because the sugar turns into starch.
Like most frozen vegetables, they are picked and flash-frozen when they are the freshest. This process then stops the sugars from turning into starch, and we get pops of sweet peas.
Besides, the convenience of it all is unbeatable. No shelling required and you can always access peas for months in the freezer. Also, they are so affordable.
What Do Peas Taste Like?
Flavour: Peas are sweet, and some say they taste like spring! I like that description as it does!
The edible pods of the sugar snap peas and snow peas are a typical green vegetable and don’t have a distinctive flavour.
Texture: The peas itself are plump and if very fresh, can pop in your mouth. If they are not fresh, they can turn mealy or floury, and a whole mouthful of this is not very nice.
The edible pods are crunchy and eaten together with the peas; it’s the perfect combination of its crispness with the peas’ softness.
As mentioned above, if you did try to eat the garden peas’ pods, you’ll find that it’s stringy.
What Goes Well with Peas?
Fruit and Vegetables
Asparagus, avocado, bell peppers, bok choy, broccoli, broccolini, carrot, cauliflower, chilli, corn, edamame, fennel, garlic, ginger, kale, leek, lemon, onion, potato, radish, shallot, spinach, spring onion, swede, sweet potato, tomato, turnip, watercress.
Herbs, Nuts and Spices
Almond, basil, coriander, dill, macadamia, mint, paprika, parsley, pecans, pine nuts, pistachio, ricotta, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, walnut.
Protein and Other
Bacon, barley, beef, bocconcini, buffalo mozzarella, bulgur, butter, chicken, curry, egg, farro, ham, millet, parmesan, pasta, polenta, pork, prawn, quinoa, rice, ricotta, sesame seeds.
How to Use Peas in Salads?
The simplest way to use peas in salads would be to boil frozen peas for about 3-5 minutes. Then put them in cold water to stop the cooking process. Pat dry and add them to your salads.
Snow peas and sugar snap peas also require a short blanching process and can be added to your recipe. They can also be pan-fried if you wish. The trick is to get it al dente so that the crunch factor is still prominent.
Garden peas look stunning in their open pods. They make for a beautiful presentation, and it’s very hard not to be tempted to that all the time. Especially when you’ve found an amazing batch. Just remind your guests not to eat the pod as we have with our recipe.
Salad Recipes with Peas
A quick and easy pasta salad covered with a savoury anchovy, parsley and ricotta dressing with pops of green peas and crispy prosciutto, we know you are going to love it. Great pasta with prosciutto recipe, perfect for lunches on the go and sunny outdoor picnics.
Encrust the humble avocado with nutty black sesame seeds as you serve it up with cucumber, exposed pea pods and some greens. Accompanied by a delicious raspberry walnut dressing, this salad is easy to make over and over again.
Celebrate the spring season with the emergence of the delicate and almost luminous white asparagus. There is no better accompaniment than the ever so creamy Persian fetta in fragrant chilli oil. The combination is out of this world!
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