Bright? Check. Fresh? Of course. Green? Delightfully so. If anything tastes like the springtime, it’s spring peas. And while fresh-picked are only just available now, peas are one of the few vegetables that retain much of their flavor and form when frozen, so there is no reason not to indulge this season and beyond. We’re obsessed with the classic pairing of peas and mint in this bright, verdant soup, but there are countless other ways to capture the joyous flavor of peas in your cooking. Here are a few to get you started.
Fresh Pea Soup with Mint
Cook 1 chopped onion and 2 chopped leeks in 2 Tbsp. butter until they are soft. Add 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock and 5 cups of peas. Cook until peas are tender, then stir in about 1/2 cup of chopped fresh mint leaves, 2 tsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of white pepper. Puree in a blender, one cup at a time. Serve warm or cold. Top with a dollop of crème fraîche.
Saute 4 minced garlic cloves and 1/2 tsp. grated ginger in 1 Tbsp. of olive oil. Stir in 3 cups snow peas and 3 cups of sugar snap peas and sauté until barely tender. Stir in 4 cups of pea shoots, cook for 2-3 minutes, then serve.
Risi e Bisi
Cook one minced clove of garlic in 2 Tbsp. olive oil, then stir in a heaping cup of Arborio rice and sauté a minute. Add a quart of warmed stock or water, a ladleful at a time, cooking until absorbed after each ladleful. Stir in a cup of peas, 1/4 cup diced, frizzled pancetta and 1/2 cup corn. Finish with 1/4 cup or so of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Bring a shallow pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add frozen peas and cook for 3 minutes, or until tender. Drain peas and transfer to a food processor. Add a few Tbsp. of butter, salt and pepper to taste, and process until thick but with small pieces of peas remaining. If it seems too thick, mix in 1 Tbsp. of heavy cream. Stir in 2 tsp. of lemon juice. It’s a great side dish for ham.
Don’t turn a cold shoulder to frozen peas. They’re picked fresh and flash-frozen when ripe, and they can live in your freezer for months. The trick: Don’t overcook them. Because they’ve been flash-steamed before frozen, they’re ready to eat. Cook for a brief minute or simply defrost them before throwing them directly into your hot dish (so they don’t cool down your recipe). Then simply savor their sweet flavor and firm, delicious forms.