Monday, May 2, 2011
English peas from the garden -- with recipes
I was never a big fan of English peas growing up. I especially didn't like canned English peas. My parents, agreed on most things, but English peas was not one of them. It wasn't a point of contention in their marriage -- my mother loved them -- my dad said he had eaten too many cans of cold English peas while riding across Africa, Italy, France and Germany in his World War II era tank, that he could never get excited about another green pea.
But he did grow up a member of the clean-plate club and would always take a helping and eat them. After the meal he would politely tell mother that he enjoyed his dinner, but she always knew he didn't love his English peas.
I agreed with my dad as long as the canned peas were on the table, but I have changed my mind now that I have English peas in my garden.
On a warm sunny day while picking, we noticed the peas were good enough to pluck, shell and eat right from the pod while "pea-picking." The variety above are Sugar Snap English peas. We also picked pea pods for our salads and Oriental dishes. If you pluck English peas before they fill out, you can also add the underdeveloped peas to to salads or stir frys.
Our pea pod variety is Alaskan snow peas and we intend to plant even more of them next year because they are so sweet and good. The large pods are a perfect complement to salads or stir frys. I like them as a snack, too - so sweet and delicious.
Here are a couple of my favorite early pea recipes.
Veggie Stir Fry
(with directions for adding meat -- sometimes in my family we cook the veggie stir fry and then have chopped, cooked meat ready for the meat-lovers, if they request it.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon chopped ginger
1 pound of firm tofu, cut into to 1/2 inch cubes (you can use white meat chicken breast or tenders instead of tofu, or add both for a non-vegan variety)
2 large scallions, minced
1 cup pea pods, washed
1 cups carrots, thinly sliced
2 cups mushrooms
2 cups of bok choy
2 cups chopped broccoli
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup tamari, or to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: Add 2 teaspoons of arrowroot powder to the orange juice to thicken the mixture.
You can add other vegetables like cauliflower, a few leaves of greens, chopped fresh spinach (at the end of the cooking), bean sprouts or water chestnuts. You can make this your own by making up your own combo or add leftover vegetables from the refrigerator. Two packages of frozen stir-fry vegetables (slightly thawed) will work, too.
Add 1/2 tablespoons of oils to large stir-fry pan and saute garlic and ginger for a minute or so on medium. Add scallions and saute until soft and a little browned. Add the tofu and saute until browned. (You can add the chicken here instead of the tofu.) Remove tofu (and/or chicken) to a bowl.
Add remaining oil to pan and saute the remaining vegetables. When they are softened but not well-done, add back the tofu (and/or chicken). Add the orange juice (add arrowroot with orange, if desired), tamari, lemon juice, brown sugar and salt and pepper. Cook until mixture thickens but before vegetables are soft. Serves 6 to 8.
Crab meat and Shells Pasta Salad
1 box (12 oz.) of small shell, wheat pasta, cooked
4 cups raw blanched English peas, shelled (or you can use frozen, uncooked peas)
2 cups celery, chopped
4 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 to 1 cup mayonnaise
1-1/2 to 2 pounds crab meat (I have used the faux crab meat with great results)
Cook pasta and drain, set aside. In large bowl mix peas, celery, scallions, parsley, lemon juice and 1/2 cup of mayonnaise. Add shells and crab meat. Mix gently and add enough mayonnaise until the mixture lightly covered with mayonnaise. Chill thoroughly. Serves 10 to 12.