Peas: Small But Mighty

Peas are one of the easiest vegetables to freeze. That means they can be enjoyed all year, not just when they are in season in the spring and early summer. They are also very versatile and easy to cook. If you have a bag of peas in the freezer, dinner ideas are only a few moments away.

peas ham n eggs

Let’s start with something simple, easy and filling: Braised Peas with Ham and Eggs. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet. Then add 3/4 cup of finely chopped shallots or mild onion along with 4 cloves of thinly sliced garlic. Cover and cook until soft, not browned. Stir in one pound of peas and 1/2 cup of chicken stock (homemade if you have it). Simmer gently for about 5 minutes until peas are tender and liquid is mostly gone. Stir in 3 ounces of shredded ham and season with salt and pepper to taste. Finally, break 2 eggs over the whole lot and cover to cook for about 5 minutes or until eggs are done. Add a slice of crusty bread and you’ve got a meal.

spaghetti with peas

Spaghetti Carbinara is a workman’s meal because it is cheap, easy and quick. Chef +Marcus Samuelsson+ developed this variation which showcases peas in a great way. Prepare the pasta in the usual way. After draining, toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil to keep it from sticking. Prepare an ice bath. Bring a pot of water to boil and add 1-1/2 cups of peas to cook for just 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon into the ice bath. They will cool quickly, then you drain them and set aside. Whisk together 2 large egg yolks, 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream in a small bowl. Put a large sauté pan over low heat and add 1/2 cup diced pancetta (you can substitute lean bacon or thinly sliced ham) and cook until crispy. Add 1 chopped yellow onion and 3 chopped cloves of garlic and sauté until translucent. Add the cooked spaghetti and cook until heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and toss with the egg-Parmesan mixture and some lemon zest. Top with chopped parsley and basil and peas. Sprinkle on a little more Parmesan and serve.

Or you could do a variation on Texas Caviar, substituting peas for the usual black eyes peas, which are actually beans. However, the version with black eyed peas or other beans  is pretty good, too.

Peas can be very good whether fresh or frozen. They are worth keeping around.