Give Peas a Chance
At Café Nuovo, locally sourced means “fresh and seasonal”. Take peas, for example. Peas are classified as garden peas (English peas), snap peas and snow peas (sugar peas).
While frozen peas are available year-round, there's simply nothing that can replace the toothsome snap of a freshly shelled English pea. English peas, also known as shell peas and garden peas, enjoy a short-lived season during late Spring and Summer.
Peas are of the best quality when they’re fully expanded but immature, before they become hard and starchy. Peas should be picked immediately before cooking because their quality, especially sweetness (like that of sweet corn), deteriorates rapidly.
If you’re shopping for English peas that are sweet and crisp, start by looking for shiny, firm, brightly colored pods that feel swollen and heavy. When cooking with English peas, buy much more than you think you will need, as one pound of peas will only equate to roughly one cup of shelled peas. While it's ideal to eat garden peas as soon as they're picked, they can keep for up to three days when wrapped tightly and placed in the coolest part of the refrigerator.
Unlike sugar snap peas or snow peas, the fibrous pods of English peas cannot be eaten, although they can be used to enhance the flavor of vegetable stock. Shell English peas immediately before they're to be cooked: break off the stem and pull the fibrous string down the length of the pod. Press each pod between your thumbs and forefingers to open, pushing out the individual peas.
The easiest preparation is to boil peas in 1/4 inch of simmering, generously salted water for two to four minutes until tender. Drain and serve with a large pat of butter.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with them. Now’s the time. Use them in sweet pea soup, pair them with beer-braised sausages and pine nuts, add them to a cheesy pasta dish, or toss a handful of blanched & shocked fresh peas to a summer salad and enjoy.