Although used in dried form since ancient times, peas have been growing in American soil since 1493 (thanks to Christopher Columbus), and have been eaten in their fresh state since the sixteenth century.
Personally, peas were not a vegetable my mother liked, so they didn’t make an appearance until later in life, and I was hesitant to try them even then.
Honestly, the only reason I gave it any thought was due to it being suggested by a dear girlfriend who worked tirelessly to convince me that fresh, gourmet peas are fabulous. She encouraged me to plant some because, as she put it, “You don’t know what you are missing!” So, I did.
While waiting for them to grow, I still harbored some misgivings, so I decided to look them up to see if there was anything about them that makes them well worth eating.
I found that peas are indeed unique, and they offer incredible amounts of protein in their little pods. In fact, a 100-calorie serving of peas, which is about 3/4 cup, provides more protein than a whole egg or a tablespoon of peanut butter.
Coming to us in three general types: English, snow, and snap, peas offer us lots of options.
English peas or shelling peas as they are sometimes called, are peas that are fully ripened within a fibrous pod that is then opened (known as shelling) to remove the peas, so the tough pod can be discarded before cooking.
Snow peas offer a super tender pod, and is harvested when the peas inside the pod are still immature, enabling the entire snow pea to be eaten whole after cooking, and often stir-fried.
Snap peas offer the best of both worlds, allowing for them to be harvested when the peas are still immature like snow peas, as well as the option of eating them raw or cooked.
Its edible pod makes the snap a more versatile pea, enabling you to either pick when immature, or leave it on the vine to form mature peas, which then provides the option of shelling and eating like an English pea, or cooking its mature, but still tender pod with peas still intact.
In the end, I carry a certain amount of regret for waiting so long to sink my teeth into a pea, especially since I have developed quite a fondness for those in oh-so-young and tender pods-oh my!
Here now are some emerald studded treats that make it easy to add more peas and happiness to your life. Enjoy!
Laura Kurella is an award-winning food columnist and recipe developer who loves to share recipes from her Michigan kitchen. She welcomes your comments at email@example.com.
Prep time: 15 minutes; Cook time: 30 minutes; Total time: 45 minutes. Yield: 6 servings.
Unrefined mineral sea salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon unrefined mineral sea salt
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs (optional)
3 cups of your favorite type of lightly-steamed peas (or preferred green vegetable)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. To prepare the cream sauce: In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Slowly add the cornstarch, and stir for about 1 minute. While whisking constantly, slowly add half and half and milk, stirring until well combined. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Reduce heat to low and whisk occasionally for about 10 minutes until sauce becomes rich and creamy, adding more milk, if needed to reach a consistency of a thin gravy. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, then set aside, and hold warm.
To prepare fish: Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray then place fish into the dish. Sprinkle it with salt. In a microwave safe glass cup, combine butter and garlic then microwave for 30 seconds or until butter melts. Using a basting brush, brush butter-garlic mixture over fish, reserving any leftover mixture.
Sprinkle with seasoned breadcrumbs (if using) then pour any remaining butter mixture over the top of the fish. Pour prepared cream sauce into the spaces between the cod, pouring enough sauce to fill up the dish just so the tops of the filets are still visible, not covered.
Place the pan in a preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cream sauce starts bubbling. When the sauce starts bubbling, turn the oven setting “off” and turn the broil setting “on.” Broil pan for about 3-5 minutes, or until the tops of the fish start to turn golden brown. Keep a close eye on the pan to make sure it doesn’t burn, which can happen quickly, so keep watching! Remove the pan from the oven and serve immediately.
Alternate Quick-Cooking Method: Grill or pan-sear fish skin side up first. While fish are cooking, combine butter-garlic mixture with breadcrumbs (if using) and set aside. Once the outer edges of the fish begin to show evidence they are cooking through (color changes), flip fish over to cook skin side down. Using a spoon, divide butter-garlic mixture evenly over all filets. Cover and cook just until the fish becomes firm and flakes easily, just a few minutes. Serve by spooning prepared cream sauce onto plates then placing fish on top of the sauce, then sprinkling with lightly steamed peas (or preferred green vegetable).
Prep time:5 minutes; Total time: 5 minutes. Yield: 4 (1/4-cup) servings
2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
Unrefined mineral sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Bring cooked peas to room temperature (by cooling or warming under running water). Drain well then transfer to a food processor bowl. Add cooked and well-drained chickpeas, water, and oil. Process until smooth or to your liking. Add cumin, lemon juice, and tahini (if using). Pulse until well blended then taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper. Serve as a dip or a spread.
Prep time: 5 minutes; Cook time: 20 minutes; Total time: 25 minutes. Yield: 6 servings
Unrefined mineral sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
In a skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion, stirring and cooking, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add peas, then stir in stock. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, and cook until the peas are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.