Updated: Jul 20, 2020
One of the exciting parts of ordering a variety box of fresh local produce is, well, the variety! It is so much fun to try new things or to take a walk down memory lane with a food you haven't enjoyed in a long time. So whether you are new to cooking with fresh peas or grew up shelling them on your grandmother's porch, here are a few bite-sized tips you can use:
Tip 1: Selecting and Storing Peas
If you are picking out peas in the shell, the pod should feel a little dry on the outside, but not completely papery or crunchy. If the pea is too green and fresh or too flat, it isn't mature yet. Ideally, the stem end of a fresh pea should still be a nice fresh green. Store unshelled peas in a paper bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Store shelled peas in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Tip 2: Shelling Peas
Shelling peas is a lot like opening a can of refrigerated biscuits: give it a little squeeze and, if needed, run your (very clean!) fingernail down the seam. Once you have popped open the pod, slide your finger down the pod to knock out the peas.
Tip 3: Cooking Fresh Peas
Fresh peas cook quickly in seasoned water or broth - usually in 20 to 30 minutes with no presoak required. They are best when they are cooked to an 'al dente' texture. You can serve as a robust side (drizzled with olive oil or butter, sprinkled with fresh herbs, or flavored with peppers, onions, ham, smoked sausage, or bacon), use them as a salad topper to add a great boost of nutrients and fiber, add them to your favorite soup, mix them with a flavorful rice Hoppin' John style, or make Texas Caviar.
Bonus Tip: Texas Caviar
Combine cooked fresh peas (well seasoned) with sweet corn sliced of the cob (cooked briefly then chilled if you don't like it raw), diced tomatoes and/or halved cherry tomatoes, sliced green onions or diced red onion, diced peppers with seeds and membranes removed (as hot or mild as you like), and chopped parsley or cilantro with your favorite zesty vinaigrette (enough to coat everything). Refrigerate to let the flavors meld. Serve as a dip with tortilla chips, as a side, or use it to top fish tacos or another favorite dish. Garnish with lime and avocado. If you don't have fresh peas you can use drained and well-rinsed canned peas or beans and corn.
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