How to cook Peas
Peas are delicious in salads, stir-fries, soups, curries and stews, or as a simple accompaniment to meat or fish. Eat them straight-up as a side, braise with lettuce for a warm salad, or stir through pasta. Fresh peas taste best either raw or lightly cooked. To defrost frozen peas, steam or boil them for a few minutes. Don’t overcook them or they’ll lose their sweetness. Generally, pea pods are discarded, but you can drop them into pasta water to give it a fresh flavour.
WATCH: Pea & feta quesadillas
WHAT ARE PEAS?
Although we call peas a vegetable, they are technically a fruit because we eat the seeds and seed pods of the plant. You can also eat the flowers and young shoots of pea plants. They are sweet and delicious in salads, or scattered over dishes such as risotto and pasta. Peas are in the fabaceous plant family, along with climbing beans. Some varieties of pea plants can grow to more than two metres tall, whereas others are referred to as dwarf varieties, and would barely reach up to your knee. Although fresh veggies are a real treat and full of goodness, frozen peas are frozen so soon after they’re picked that all the lovely sweetness and nutrients are locked in, not lost.
WHEN ARE PEAS IN SEASON?
Peas are in season from May to October, but frozen peas are available all year round and are still full of nutrients.
HOW TO STORE PEAS
Fresh peas should be eaten as soon as possible after purchase (or picking!), as they can get starchy very quickly after harvest. If you can’t eat them straight away, keep them in the freezer.
What are the health benefits?
Humble little peas are a source of a few different micronutrients, and are especially high in thiamine – a B-vitamin that helps our hearts to function properly, and keeps our nervous system healthy. They're also a good source of vitamin C and fibre. Three heaped tablespoons of fresh, canned or frozen peas counts towards your 5-a-day (one portion of veg or fruit is 80g raw weight).