Whenever I shop for green peas—whether frozen, canned or resting comfortably in their tiny pods—it conjures up memories of me sitting at the dinner table when I was a kid, contemplating how I was going to manage to swallow them without gagging. I would grow desperate as the time ticked by (we weren't allowed to leave the table without finishing everything on our plates) because I knew my window of opportunity to watch my favorite show after dinner was going to be over unless I found a way to "eat my vegetables."
Mixing peas in other foods like mashed potatoes helped to mask the flavor and the texture, which I wasn't too keen on. Yet, it wasn't until my grandmother came to live with us that I started my love affair with peas. She made a pasta dish with pancetta and cream sauce and then mixed the peas in. What a surprise, and how wonderful for me that the peas were already hidden in between swirls of linguine!
As I wrapped my pasta around my fork, capturing the tiny green morsels coated with a delicate, light cream sauce, I couldn't wait to try it! The sweet taste of the peas as they would burst in your mouth along with the crunch from the pancetta and the creamy goodness from the sauce was simply amazing! No longer did I fear the pea. In fact, they made the dish.
My grandmother had other ways to prepare them, including my favorites, peas with onions, fresh tomatoes and prosciutto, fresh homemade pea soup made with bits of caramelized baked ham and tomato sauce with peas!
Discover more ideas for cooking with peas
The season for garden peas lasts from spring through the beginning of winter. Not only are they delicious, but green peas also provide nutrients that are important for maintaining bone health, such as vitamin K. They also contain magnesium; vitamins C, A, B1, B3, B6 and B2; iron; zinc; folate; and copper.
When buying fresh garden peas, look for ones with pods that are firm and smooth and have a beautiful medium-green color. It's best to use fresh peas the day you buy them, but if you can't, then refrigerate them as quickly as possible in order to preserve their sugar content. Don't wash them or take them out of their pods if storing; instead, place them in unsealed container, and they will keep for four to five days. If you like, you can blanch them for two minutes and then store them in the freezer!