It’s not very often that we get fresh peas. I don’t think I ever even tried young, fresh peas until last year when I was helping a friend make a light and refreshing chilled pea soup for a crowd. We shelled bushels of pea pods — each pod containing a single row of imperfectly-sized, pale green peas. Though some labor was required, shelling the peas was the best way to guarantee true freshness, and the taste was worth it.
What I did eat a lot of growing up were mealy, yellowish peas from a can and frozen peas mixed with perfect cubes of carrot that often left me wondering drearily, “Is there a world beyond steamed peas?”
But now it’s spring, and this verdant vegetable is moving beyond the confines of a simple, bland side dish. Gardens are bearing pea pods full of plump little chlorophyllous gems ready to star in pastas, dips, salads and soups. Fresh peas are a seasonal pleasure — an assurance that spring is finally here.
Here are 5 recipes to take advantage of spring peas:
Tagliatelle with Fresh Peas and Lemon (pictured above)
Fresh shelled peas are briefly poached and then tossed with pasta in a lemony cream sauce.
This pea salad is studded with chunks of crab and aromatic herbs. Serve in lettuce cups for an elegant appetizer.
Young peas are whipped together with sheep’s milk ricotta and Parmesan, making the perfect cheesy dip for grilled bread.
Peas and mint reminds us of the beloved British side dish called mushy peas, but this textured salad gets dressed in vinaigrette and tossed with pistachios and salty feta.
This vivid pea soup is bright green, refreshing and nothing like the split pea alternative.