Discovering: Fresh Peas

I've always had a rocky relationship with peas. As a kid, I'd push the frozen variety around on my plate until they were cold and clammy, then eat a few and call it a day. I finally decided to give fresh peas a try -- here's some recipe inspiration.
By: Liz Gray
Fresh Peas: Friend or Foe?

I've always had a rocky relationship with peas. As a kid, I'd push the frozen variety around on my plate until they were cold and clammy, then eat a few and call it a day.

But even as a pea skeptic, I suspected the fresh ones would be different. So when I came across them at the farmers' market, I knew it was destiny. Pea pods in hand, I headed home to widen my recipe repertoire.

My recipe box is completely devoid of pea-related recipes (see above pea paranoia), so a little investigation was in order. And, it had to happen fast -- the peas were sweet, crisp and nothing like the raisin-like, wrinkly frozen variety, and they tasted great raw. So great, in fact, that my supply was starting to dwindle. Oh no! Focus.

Deb over at Smitten Kitchen (who is also not a pea lover) made a tempting-looking pea-studded pasta salad with a red pepper vinaigrette filling in for the usual oozy mayo dressing. Plus, the peas rest inside the shell-shaped pasta like they're still in their pods -- so cute!

Smitten Kitchen's Red Pepper-Pea Pasta Salad

Fresh peas have a great sweetness, and Heidi at 101 Cookbooks dresses her Fresh Pea Salad with a mint-date dressing to accentuate the sweet notes even more. This bright salad looks like the perfect light lunch.

Fresh Pea Salad From 101 Cookbooks

Peas plus pasta also sounded very tempting, like this Tagliatelle with Fresh Peas and Lemon from Bill Granger.

Bill Granger's Tagliatelle With Fresh Peas

Or, why not put them atop toast like La Tartine Gourmande does? This bright green goat cheese-scallion mixture looks beautiful (and delicious) with vibrant peas and radishes scattered on top.

La Tartine Gourmande's Brioche with Fresh Peas

Our own Aida Mollenkamp braises peas with chicken broth and butter lettuce (if you've never tried it cooked, it's surprisingly amazing) and finishes it off with creamy Greek yogurt.

Aida's Braised Lettuce and Peas

So what did I end up making? I had pasta. I had peas. I had lettuce. I sautéed the peas with shallots à la this Mark Bittman recipe, then tossed with pasta and topped it with a little crispy Spanish ham. The verdict? Even the semi-painful shelling process (emotionally, not physically) was worth it -- consider me converted.

What's your take on peas: okay, no way or all-out pea lover?

Next Up

At the Market: 5 Recipes Using Fresh Spring Peas

Get Cooking Channel's recipes for pastas, salads and soup with fresh peas.

Fresh Summer Berries

Find great berry recipes from Cooking Channel chefs.

Cooking With Fresh Herbs

Enhance your cooking with the flavors of fresh, fragrant herbs.

Summer Fest: Fresh Corn Muffins

Week five of our season-long garden party Summer Fest 2011 welcomes food and garden bloggers to feature garden-to-table recipes and tips. We’ll help you to enjoy all that this season has to offer. So far, we’ve delved into eggplant, peaches, cucumbers and cherries. Now we're on to a new crop: corn. Yes, I turned on my oven. It was worth it though to work sweet summer corn into a classic corn muffin recipe. These savory corn muffins are a great accompaniment to any summer dish but since I prefer to snack all day, I made them miniature. You can pick up corn right now from your local farmers' market, but there should also be plenty in stock at the supermarket.

Fresh Homemade Strawberry Jell-O

Cooking Channel shows you how to make your own Jell-O that's better than the boxed kind using fresh strawberries and gelatin.

Summer Fest: Quick Salads with Peas

Skip the frozen aisle and pick up shell peas or sugarsnap peas at the market right now to use in Cooking Channel's best salads with peas.

So Much Pretty Food Here