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Peas in season, available fresh at farmers market

Fresh peas from the farmers market. (PACIFIC COAST FARMERS MARKET / Courtesy)
Fresh peas from the farmers market. (PACIFIC COAST FARMERS MARKET / Courtesy)

“How luscious lies the pea within the pod.” – Emily Dickinson

Spring is here in all its glory. The hills are green, the flowers are blooming, and spring produce is in abundance at your farmers’ market. The produce to buy in April is peas – sweet English peas, snow peas, and sugar snap peas. Look for them at J&M Farms and Hall’s Organics from Spreckels at the Sunday Martinez Farmers’ Market.

Tender and sweet enough to be eaten raw or eaten cooked in recipes, young spring peas are as versatile as they are delicious. For peas, the closer you are to the time of picking, the better and that’s the reason to get them at the farmers’ market. They’re just-picked at their peak of freshness. Check the pea pods. They should be firm, crisp and bright green with a good appearance and a velvety touch. Your peas will taste fresher if you shell them yourself and cook immediately. Peas are rich in vitamin A and vitamin B (particularly folic acid), calcium, iron, zinc, and potassium.

You’ve never eaten peas fresh from the pod? Only had them from frozen? Well, shelling peas is easy and rewarding – not to mention much better tasting than canned or frozen!

First, snap off the ends and pull off the fibrous string along the length of the pod.

Pop open the pod and slide the peas out into a bowl.

It’s time-consuming, but try to think of it as a Zen thing – empty the mind, relax, and enjoy the process! Your bowl will fill up before you know it! Take the time to prepare and cook from fresh – it’s well worth it!

Fresh English Pea Salad with Mint

2 cups water

1 cup shelled green peas (about 1 pound unshelled)

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup (2 ounces) shaved fresh pecorino Romano cheese

Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add peas; cook 1 minute. Drain and plunge peas into ice water; drain. Combine peas, and mint in a large bowl. Add lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper; toss well. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.

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