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The Ultimate Fresh Pea Playbook

The Ultimate Fresh Pea Playbook

Try these sweet, tender vegetables in a salad, side dish, or stir-fry, or eat them raw as a snack. Garden or English peas must be shelled before eating. Edible-podded peas include the popular sugar snap pea and its kin, as well as flat snow peas. Before it grows pods, the pea plant produces pea shoots, dainty, curling tendrils that are edible.

In Season: Sugar snap peas, snow peas, and garden peas are available during spring and fall.

What to Look For: Choose plump, crisp pods with a bright-green color. Pea shoots should be entirely green and leafy. Pick them in the morning, when they’re most sturdy; gently pinch some off, taking care to leave the main stems of your pea plants intact.

How to Store: Refrigerate in a plastic bag for up to 3 days. Pea shoots don’t keep for long. Plan to use them the same day you pick or buy them. Store in the refrigerator.

Related: 14 New, Lighter Comfort Food Ideas

Pea and Parsley Soup with Golden Caviar

This smooth, sophisticated pea and parsley soup is an homage to the season. It gets body from creme fraiche and a salty snap from orbs of golden caviar.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups coarsely chopped onion (from 1 large)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
6 cups shelled fresh English peas
4 cups packed flat-leaf parsley leaves (from 2 bunches)
1/4 cup creme fraiche, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
Golden caviar, for garnish
Pea shoots (optional), for garnish

1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and 2 teaspoons salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

2. Add broth and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in peas and return to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in parsley and creme fraiche. Puree soup in a blender, working in batches, until very smooth. Transfer to a clean pot and stir in lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm until ready to serve. Divide soup among bowls and garnish with creme fraiche, caviar, and pea shoots.

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Pork and Snap Pea Kebabs with Ginger-Hoisin Glaze

This lively combination of flavors, colors, and textures is just as fun to make as it is to eat. Not warm enough to grill yet? You can make this recipe in the broiler instead.

1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger (from a 1-inch piece)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 pork tenderloin (about 3/4 pound), cut into 3/4-inch slices
5 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 pound snap peas, trimmed

Cook’s Note
No grill? Broil on second highest rack using metal skewers. Cooking times are the same. This recipe can be made meatless by replacing the pork with 1 large eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces.

1. Heat a grill to medium. Clean and lightly oil hot grill. In a small bowl, stir together hoisin sauce, soy sauce, ginger, and rice vinegar.

2. Alternately thread pork tenderloin, scallions, and snap peas onto four 8-inch skewers. Grill, turning occasionally, until pork is cooked through and vegetables are charred, about 9 minutes. Brush kebabs with hoisin mixture and cook 1 minute more, turning once, until mixture begins to bubble.

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Pesto Snap Peas

Use homemade or store-bought basil pesto for this amazingly easy side dish that packs a flavorful punch.

1 pound snap peas
1/4 cup basil pesto
Coarse salt and ground pepper

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook snap peas until crisp-tender and bright green, about 4 minutes. Drain and toss with pesto; season with salt and pepper.

Related: 22 Chicken Dinner Recipes in Less Than 30 Minutes

Chicken and Snap Peas

When time is tight, nothing beats a 30-minute meal of browned tender chicken and fresh snap peas made in a single skillet.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 1/2 to 4 pounds chicken pieces, patted dry
Salt and pepper
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/3 cup cider vinegar
4 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/2 pound snap peas
1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn, divided

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large skillet, heat oil over high. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook, skin side down, until deep golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Flip chicken and remove pan from heat. Tilt pan slightly and carefully remove fat with a spoon. Return pan to heat and add garlic, vinegar, sugar, and red-pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then transfer pan to oven. Bake 17 minutes. Add snap peas and half the basil and bake 5 minutes more. Remove from oven, sprinkle with remaining basil, and serve.

Peas and Potatoes with Mint

Three varieties of fresh spring peas — English, snow, and sugar snap — mingle with new potatoes in a light glaze of minty lemon butter.

1 pound small red potatoes, halved
Salt and pepper
1 cup shelled English peas
1/2 pound snap peas, halved crosswise
1/4 pound snow peas, halved crosswise
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 2 teaspoons juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

1. In a medium pot, bring potatoes to a boil in salted water over high; reduce heat and simmer 12 minutes. Add peas and cook until bright green and crisp-tender, 2 minutes; drain. Transfer to a bowl and toss with butter, lemon zest and juice, and mint; season with salt and pepper and serve warm.

Snow Pea Salad with Shallot and Tarragon

Toss crisp ribbons of snow peas with a Dijon vinaigrette and a handful of fresh tarragon for a refreshing, out-of-the-ordinary spring side dish.

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons champagne or white-wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 pound snow peas, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

1. In a large bowl, whisk together mustard, vinegar, and oil; season with salt and pepper. Add shallot, snow peas, and tarragon and combine.

Peas with Spinach and Bacon in Lettuce Cups

Wilted lettuce and peas is a classic side dish. This hearty version is substantial enough for a lunchtime main course.

4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 leeks (white and pale-green parts only), halved, thinly sliced into half moons, and rinsed well (2 cups)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
20 ounces spinach, tough stems removed, washed well (8 packed cups)
2 cups shelled fresh garden peas (from 2 pounds in pods)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon finely chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as dill, chervil, and tarragon
12 leaves Boston or Bibb lettuce

1. Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain.

2. Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat until foamy. Add leeks and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add spinach, cover, and cook 2 minutes, stirring halfway through. Add peas and broth, and cook, stirring occasionally, until peas are tender and bright green, 3 to 4 minutes.

3. Stir in herbs and bacon, and season with salt and pepper. Divide lettuce leaves among 6 plates, and top with pea mixture. Serve immediately.

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