Pea varieties include green peas, petit pois, sugar snap peas and snow peas.
Of these pea types, sugar snap peas and snow peas are immature peas, picked while the pod is still edible — which is why they are also known as mangetout (French, meaning ‘eat all’). Petits pois are green peas, picked and shelled when small, young and tender but the pods are inedible.
While frozen peas are available year-round, fresh green peas are in season from November until February. When buying fresh peas, look for firm, velvety smooth, vibrant green pods filled with peas. Fresh peas are best kept refrigerated to minimise the sugar converting to starch. Snow pea pods are shiny, flat and quite transparent — you can see the peas through the pod. The smaller pods tend to be sweeter. To ensure sugar snap peas are fresh, snap the pod open to determine crispness.
To preserve peas’ texture and nutrient content, store unwashed, unshelled fresh green peas in the fridge for several days. To freeze peas, blanch for a couple of minutes, cool, then freeze for up to 12 months.
Peas are very high in fibre, with 5.6g in a three-quarter cup serve, and compared to other vegetables, peas are high in protein, too (6g in three-quarter cup). They are also a source of antioxidants including vitamins E and C, phenolics and carotenoids.
Rinse snow peas and snap peas before eating them (raw or cooked). Trim pods by cutting the tips off the pod ends. The peas are sweeter when cooked. Shell fresh green peas right before cooking. Snap off pod ends and pull off the thread that lines the seam. Remove the seeds from unhinged pods. Boil fresh green peas briefly until just tender to serve as a simple vege side. For a flavour twist, add mint, chopped fresh parsley, curry powder or lemon. Peas work well in risottos, omelettes, pastas, soups, curries, casseroles and salads — simply add peas or mangetout to cold pasta with crumbled feta, chopped fresh mint and a drizzle of olive oil, for example, or add mangetout to a stir-fry for a touch of sweetness.
Try these delicious pea recipes:
Honey-spiced salmon with wasabi pea mash and apple salad
Sesame lamb cutlets with kumara mash
Vegetarian sausages with balsamic onions and pea mash
Spaghetti with chicken, feta, courgettes and mint
Beef and black bean stir-fry
Easy pea and potato frittata
Did you know? Canada is the world’s largest producer and exporter of peas.