This green pod is a legume with a sweet taste and a starchy texture. There are generally three types of peas that are commonly eaten: garden or green peas, snow peas, and snap peas. Like other legumes, the sugar in peas starts turning into starch shortly after picking, so peas are best eaten as close as possible to being picked. Peas are available in a variety of forms: fresh, frozen, canned, dried or ground into flour. Frozen peas are just as nutritious as fresh peas.
When buying fresh garden peas, look for pods that are firm, velvety and smooth, with a lively green colour. Avoid those with wrinkled skin or yellowed pods.
It is best to use fresh peas on the day you buy them but unwashed and unshelled peas will keep in the fridge for two to three days. Fresh peas can be blanched for two minutes and then frozen, allowing them to keep for up to 12 months.
Peas are starchy but are a good source of fibre and higher in protein than most vegetables. They are a good source of vitamin C and folate, plus a source of niacin, thiamin and iron.
- Steam or boil peas for a quick, healthy side dish.
- Add peas to pasta, omelettes, pies, curries and casseroles to bump up the vegetable content.
- Add fresh raw peas to green salads.
- Snow peas and snap peas add a great crunch to stir-fries.
- Make a vibrant dip by puréeing cooked peas, red onion, crème fraiche and mint. Season with salt and pepper.
- Pea purée complements a variety of meats and looks great on the plate. Purée cooked peas with a little trim milk, reduced-fat spread, white pepper, salt and nutmeg.
Did you know? Peas are an environmentally friendly crop because they provide the soil with important benefits without the use of fertilisers.