While peas are one of the oldest known vegetables, they were always dried and added to soups and wet dishes during colder months. It wasn’t until around 500 years ago that the Dutch developed new varieties with better flavour and fresh peas started to become popular. Spring is the perfect time to feature fresh peas, which really celebrates new season produce.
The most common variety, known as English peas, are delicious steamed or boiled with some fresh mint leaves. They can be pureed, made into soup or served as a side dish.
Combine with avocado for the ultimate spring mash for bagels or toast, or feature as part of a green salad with seasonal oomph. Snow peas have a fibrous strip running from the stalk along the back side to the tip. This can be a little tough, so many people choose to pull it off, but it's not always necessary. Particularly young and tender snow peas can be eaten as is. Beautiful raw, but if cooked both snow peas and sugar snap peas benefit from very light blanching at most, which allows them to retain their colour, flavour and texture. Distinctive yet relatively mild, snow peas work well with a variety of foods. Their bright but mild flavour makes them popular in seafood dishes and alongside other vegetables. Though not unique to the region, snow peas appear quite frequently in East Asian and Asian-inspired dishes. Their sweet texture is a perfect foil for Asian cookery accents such as ginger, garlic, chilli and soy sauce. Interchangeable with green beans, peas pair wonderfully with mushrooms, peanuts, ginger, garlic, parsley, basil, mint and chervil.
Available from late spring through summer. The fresher the peas, the sweeter they taste. It’s best to remove the peas from the pod just before cooking.
Also known as mange tout, which translates into English as ‘eat all’. Snow peas are young, tender peas with flattish pods and tiny peas which are both eaten.
Sugar Snap Peas
These rounded pods with thick pod walls are bursting with 3–8 peas. While both the pea and the pod are edible, these sweet peas are generally podded.
The tender young leaves and stems from the ends of snow pea branches and an excellent garnish.
A sprout or microgreen composed of the whole young plant (including stalk and leaves) grown from newly sprouted peas and tasting distinctly of fresh, juicy peas.
Here in New Zealand, we grow about 60,000 tonnes a year, most in the Canterbury region.