Monday, June 29, 2020

Peas in a Pod

Peas are highly controversial.  Who would have thought that these sweet, tender, bursts of fresh flavor would be despised by so many people?  Like cilantro, which a certain segment of the population is genetically predisposed to detest, peas have a way of dividing us.

These starchy legumes are much maligned, but are actually quite nutrient-dense compared to other veggies.  They're relatively low in calories, high in fiber and protein, and rich in polyphenol antioxidants.

A 1/2 cup serving of peas contains 11 grams of carbs, 4 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, and the following percentages of the RDI for the following vitamins and minerals: 34% Vitamin A, 24% Vitamin K, 13% Vitamin C, 15% Thiamine, 12% Folate, 11% Manganese, 7% Iron, and 6% Phosphorus.

Personally, I adore them.  I like peas every way I can get them.  What would spring and summer be without peas?

They are absolutely essential in potato salad.  Seriously, how can you make potato salad without them?  It's a sacrilege.  And pasta salad?  Don't get me started!

We actually have this argument every summer when we start making summer salads for our barbecues.  My nieces hate peas.  It absolutely breaks my heart.  When you love something so completely, so unconditionally, it hurts when others don't love the object(s) of your affection the same way.

So we compromise, when we can.  We'll divide the potato and pasta salads ... this half with peas, this half without.  We leave a bowl on the table for those who wish to add some to their fried rice.  Peas are easy that way.  Leave them out if you must, toss them in when you can.  The sweet taste of summertime!

We know peas pair well with carrots, but they're the star in my book with so many other dishes.

I can't do without peas on my chicken and rice.  Pea pesto is one of the most delicious concoctions ever, and makes a fabulous dip, as well.  I just had to try mushy peas when I was in England (okay, not my favorite preparation, I will admit, but still ... peas!).  Creamed peas, sauteed peas, bacon and peas, pearl onions and peas.  Fresh pea soup in spring and summer is a delightful treat, and what is fall without a big pot of hearty split pea soup?  C'mon, it's just not acceptable to go without!

One of my very favorite meals that I ever made was spring pea ravioli, which I picked up at Whole Foods.  I dressed them simply, with brown butter and toasted pine nuts.  Super easy and absolutely divine!  I couldn't get enough of them!  It is a special indulgence when I can find these lovely ravioli in the store and decide to treat myself again to their exquisiteness.

(My niece, Natalie, often makes her own ravioli with whatever vegetables she has on hand.  While she is not a fan of peas, she recently made fresh ravioli with some fresh beets, beet tops and kohlrabi leaves, and paired it with a browned butter sage sauce.)

This year, my niece Elizabeth planted some peas in my garden for me.  (I have the best nieces in the world, despite their aversion to peas.)  The vines took off with unprecedented growth everywhere, taking over my little planter ... and suddenly there were pea shoots and pods hanging everywhere.

I picked some today for the first time, gauging the plumpness of each pod to see if my little darlings were ready.  Some were, some may have been picked a tad bit too early ... but there are plenty more still ripening to plump perfection on their vines in my planter.

A bowl of freshly shelled peas
Also growing with practically no intervention from me are carrots, broccoli and lettuce.  A summer delight in my backyard.  But the peas ... that's what excites me!

So, I picked my first batch and released the peas from their pods, and now I have to decide how to enjoy them.  Simply dressed with high-quality European butter, to taste the freshness of my garden?  Tossed into a delightful pasta primavera as the star among all the other veggies?  Or in a fresh salad with pea shoots and lemon?  So many possibilities!

That's one of the best things about spring and early summer ... tasting the joys of your spring garden with its first ripening bounty.  Spring peas are lovely.  Summer peas, too.  Enjoy their green freshness in your favorite salads and dishes, and be happy!

If you love them as much as I do, then we're two peas in a pod!


Enjoy previous seasonal blog posts:

Men's Favorites
The care-and-feeding of hungry men is always a priority ... especially on Father's Day!
Happy 4th of July!
Honoring our Independence, our freedom, and the men and women who serve!
Outdoor Spaces
Bringing the indoors outside is just how we want to live in the summertime.
Summer Entertaining ...
the perfect way to entertain.
Camp Summertime!
a.k.a. What did you do during your summer vacation?
The Soundtracks of Summer
What music will be playing through your head this summer to get you into vacation-mode?
Fruit-Infused Waters
Well beyond lemon, refreshing flavored waters for summer
Sunshine In A Jar
Preserved lemons are a game-changer!
Fruit-Picking Season
There's nothing quite as satisfying as growing your own food
The Fruits of Summer
There's fruit in my salad!
Family Heritage Tour
A trip back to the old country in search of the abuelos
Ice Cream Socials
We all scream for ice cream! 
One-of-a-Kind Design
Create your own fabric, gift wrap and wallpaper to take custom designs to a whole new level.
Herb Harvest
There's nothing like growing your own fresh herbs!
Cooking with Herbs
Herbs are making a tasty appearance in some of your favorite desserts!
The Problem with Pesto ...
It's so darned easy, you'll be making it all the time!
Quarantine Chronicles
Getting through this crazy time of self-quarantine together.
The Gift of Seclusion
Taking advantage of this extra time to ourselves.
The Buzz About Bees
Bees are precious, industrious and endangered.  We can do our part to make sure we don't lose these amazing creatures.
Quality of Life
Starts and ends with a strong immune system keeping us healthy.
Ana's non-profit, Healing Warriors Program, gives away a state-of-the-art electric wheelchair!
Congrats, HWP!
Healing Warriors Programreceived a huge honor, and we were invited to the Pentagon to see it!
Taking Care of Those Who Serve
The suicide rate among our Veterans is tragically sky high.  We can do something about that.
Donate if you can!
Healing Warriors Program,
my sister's nonprofit, does very important work for our service members' complete health and wellbeing.

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