How to cook peas
The only wrong way to cook a pea variety is to overcook it. Peas thrive on freshness and shine with light cooking. Saute, steam, grill, or the occasional roasting of the pods delivers the perfect balance of warmth and flavor.
How to buy peas
When buying peas, look for moisture and crispness. If you can bend a pea and it doesn’t break, it’s old and past it’s flavor prime. Look for peas that have sharp green color and snap easily when bent.
How to store peas
Time is not helpful to peas. Buy as fresh as you can, and use within a couple of days. Store them unwashed, sealed in an airtight container.
Shelling Peas (English Peas/ Sweet Peas)
Sugar Snap Peas
Playing favorites among the three main varieties of peas would be like playing favorites of your children. Each variety of pea is unique enough in texture and flavor to stand out on its own.
Sweet Peas are the more common, shelled before eating. They are found fresh for only a couple of months, but are readily available frozen, which also removes the step of shelling. Sweet peas lose their flavor quickly, so I don’t recommend buying them from the store. I love to lightly sauté fresh peas in butter and shallots.
Snow Peas are flat. So much so, you can barely tell there are peas growing inside. And you eat that flat shell, which is crisp and delicious. Snow peas are often found in stir-fry, but I love to saute and toss with grains, or eat them fresh as a snack.
Sugar Snap Peas find themselves in the middle of sweet and snow peas. While they could be shelled, the outer shell is crisp and ever so sweet. These make the perfect raw snack, but also are lovely when cooked. I prefer to roast or grill snap peas, as to not overcook them. These peas also have a string that needs to be removed. Start at the end where the pea was attached to the plant, then snap a small part off and pull.
Pea shoots are also sold at markets. These are the stems/leaves from either snow pea or sugar snap pea plants. While they make a nice addition to salads, they lose their peppiness and flavor rather quickly.