Putting Peas on a Pedestal
I’ll admit, though, that peas re-entered my own radar when I was making baby food for the wee ones (consider this the first of what I fear may be many blog posts inspired by baby food). As I steamed a bag of frozen organic petite peas and pureed them, their vibrant, emerald color and creamy texture reminded me of classic London pub grub, where a tasty pile of “mushy peas” commonly accompanies Fish n’ Chips. (Indeed, every British chef, from Jamie Oliver to Nigella Lawson has a version of a Mushy Peas recipe.) When I tasted the puree, I was struck by how sweet and flavorful it was! Yum! Why had I been snubbing peas all of these years?!
Sure enough, Max and Stella agreed. Our babysitter, who had warned me that most kids hate peas, couldn’t believe how well-received my version was.
Which underscores the point that, when it comes to peas, preparation is everything. Frozen, petite peas steamed just until bright green and still al dente= delicious. Canned peas or frozen peas overcooked till wrinkly, mushy and gray= Feh. And while fresh peas in the pod (“Shelling Peas”) are still in season and available at the local farmer’s markets, even top chefs like Jaques Pepin and Daniel Humm concede that the frozen, petite variety are just as good for cooking. Although frozen peas are indeed available year-round, ’tis now the season for fresh herbs in abundance… and peas shine their brightest when paired with the likes of fresh mint, tarragon, thyme or cilantro.
Fancy, easy-peasy pea recipes
- Deb from Smitten Kitchen, the queen of indulgent comfort food, just posted her recipe for Linguine with Pea Pesto; use gluten-free pasta if you wish to create her simple and springy recipe. (If you can find RP’s fresh GF Linguine, it would be *fantastic* with this recipe!)
- Or make a pile of Jacques Pepin’s Puree of Peas with Mint and Cilantro, a recipe featured in his book “Fast Food My Way.” Serve alongside a lovely piece of grilled fish and some grilled asparagus for a fast and delightful summery dinner.
- Fancier still is Daniel Humm’s recipe for Garden Pea soup with Morels, a divine concoction that’s sure to have you keeping your freezer well-stocked with bags of frozen peas. (NB: if you’re ever able to splurge on a meal at his schmancy restaurant, Eleven Madison Park, you’ll get to enjoy gluten-free bread service in addition to your show-stopping meal.)
Peas: Sorta like a lower-carb, green potato
Starchier and higher protein than your typical green vegetable–but less carby than a potato–peas make a nutritious stand-in for the starch or grain typically found on a dinner plate. One half-cup serving of cooked, frozen peas has about 60 calories, 4g of protein and 11g of carbs (of which 4 huge grams are fiber). That’s about 100 calories less than a half of a medium baked potato with the same amount of protein and fiber… but still about double the calories of an equivalent portion of, say, cooked broccoli. Despite their relative starchiness, however, peas are considered a low-glycemic index food (GI=39), rendering them an even smarter baked potato/mashed potato/rice swap for people with pre-diabetes, diabetes and PCOS. Vitamin-wise, peas are an excellent source of blood-clot facilitating and bone-health promoting Vitamin K, and a good source of Vitamin C, folate and Vitamin A.Did you like this? If so, please bookmark it, RSS feed.