Fresh vs. frozen peas? No contest. Try a pea and mint soup made with berries fresh from the pod and you’ll wish they were in season all year round.
Let me get one thing staright though – there is nothing wrong with frozen peas and I always have a bag in the freezer. It’s simply that when in season, I am happy to put up with the time it takes to pod fresh peas. Fortunately, pea season lasts 5 months in the cool UK climate, starting in May, so we can forget all about frozen ones for a while.
Peas are super delicious raw, straight from the pod or just lightly cooked. Simply serve them in salads or stirred into curries and stews shortly before service. Here are our tips making the most of them this year.
Eggs could always benefit from a little green addition, so try to add a handful of fresh peas at the last moment to give a wonderful colour and crunch to scrambled eggs, frittata or a fluffy omelette. Throw in a few green herbs or chopped watercress for a real burst of flavour.
Hummus is a firm favourite when it comes to snacking, sharing platters and even as a sandwich filling (instead of mayonnaise – works a treat). Why not make a summer hummus by blending a few handfuls of fresh peas with chickpeas, tahini, lemon, seasoning, oil and mint. Utterly delicious with flatbreads or crudités.
Fritters make a terrific lunch, canapé or starter. Combine peas, halloumi, flour, egg, milk (plus fresh herbs and spices) into a thick batter, spoon into an oiled hot pan and fry in until golden, then finish in the oven. These are exquisite hot or cold, plain or with toppings (salmon!).
Never tried savoury panna cotta? You’re missing out! Take almost any basic recipe, ditch the sugar, infuse the milk with the fresh pods (peas removed), then discard the pods and blend the milk with a cpiple of handfuls of cooked peas. This can be served with bread, fish, salad or perhaps crispy ham or bacon.
For a rapid dinner, combine freshly-cooked pasta (ideally spelt or another wholegrain, as the flavour goes very well with the rest of the ingredients) with ricotta and/or mascarpone, lemon zest and fresh peas. Hot smoked salon, crispy bacon, chorizo or ham hock will add some extra happiness. You can convert to ravioli for showmanship, again, I would recommend using spelt pasta dough for earthier flavours.