kosher kitchen

Very best uses for a sweet pea


Peas. Just say the word, and kids run for cover.

Peas are the food that people love to hate. I hated them. My kids hated them. My mother hated them. And then my dad began to grow them in his backyard garden, and I discovered an entire new world of peas.

These spring peas were nothing like the olive-green mush that came from a can, or the tasteless kind that came frozen in a box or plastic bag. The peas my dad grew were sweet and delicious. I used to come home from school, pick a dozen pods, and eat the peas under the weeping willow trees next to the garden. They were amazing! I loved them, and my dad had to increase the size of the pea patch the next summer so he could get at least a few into the house before we ate them!

I introduced my kids to fresh-from-the-vine peas as soon as they were old enough to eat them safely. They loved them and would sit with me and shell them, which gave us a chance to talk and laugh and snack on the fresh sweet peas. Pulling the string and opening the pod to see how many peas there were was fun!

Because peas are a cool weather crop, now is the perfect time to buy fresh sweet peas at their very best. Use them the day you buy them for optimal sweetness.

One cup of peas has 117 calories and 7 grams of fiber, 8 grams of protein, and 97% of a day’s worth of vitamin C. Frozen peas are almost as good as fresh, but canned peas are loaded with sodium and sugar and have very few of the nutrients found in the fresh variety. 

If you or your family members have avoided peas, go to your local farm stand and buy some peas in the shell. Then sit the kids down, shell them while you talk and learn to love this very healthful springtime treat.

Peas Plus Chickpeas and More in a Bowl (Pareve)

3 cups baby kale leaves 

1 to 2 large celery stalks, sliced

1 to 2 large carrots, shredded 

1 roasted beet, shredded or diced

1/2 cup fresh green peas

1 cup sugar snap peas, strings removed

1/2 cup cucumbers, sliced and cut in half

1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar, to taste (I start with 1/2 cup)

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

2 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press

2 to 3 Tbsp. tamari sauce, to taste

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 to 2 tsp. Sriracha sauce, to taste 

3-1/2 Tbsp. corn starch 

1 can (15.5 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 Tbsp. canola or safflower oil

Optional: Any seeds or nuts you like, such as sunflower seeds, chopped pecans, peanuts or cashews. Any veggies or fruits you like, such as edamame, roasted yams or butternut squash, sliced apples, berries, etc.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Blanch the peas for 30 seconds and remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl to cool. Repeat with the sugar snap peas and place in another bowl, rinse with cold water, drain, and set aside.

Wash and thoroughly dry 3 cups of baby kale leaves. Toss with a small amount of the Asian Ginger Honey Salad Dressing and divide between two bowls.

Thinly slice the celery and divide between two bowls. Dice or shred the carrots and beet using a medium shredding disc or grater and place on the two bowls. Add the cucumbers. Add a bunch of the sugar snap peas to each bowl. Add any additional vegetables that you like. 

Place the sugar, apple cider vinegar, tamari sauce, tomato paste, Sriracha sauce, and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until well combined. Heat until just bubbling, stirring often. Place 1-1/2 Tbsp. of the cornstarch in a small bowl or cup and add 3 Tbsp. of cold water. Stir to combine, until smooth. Pour into the sauce mixture and cook until it bubbles again and thickens, 2 to 4 minutes. Set aside. 

Place the remaining cornstarch in a small bowl and add the drained chickpeas. Toss to coat.

Heat a small skillet and add the canola oil. When shimmering, add the coated chickpeas and cook until golden, shaking the pan gently to turn the chickpeas. When golden on all sides, place on a paper towel to drain. Season with salt and pepper and, if you like, a bit of cayenne. 

Add the chickpeas to the salad and drizzle the sauce over the chickpeas and sugar snap peas. Sprinkle the peas over both bowls. Serves 2. 

Asian Ginger Honey Sesame Dressing (Pareve)

3 small cloves garlic, finely minced

2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, finely minced

3/4 cup canola or olive oil or mix of both

1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil

1/3 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup tamari, soy or low-sodium soy sauce

4 Tbsp. honey

1/4 cup water

Optional: Add 1 tsp. finely orange zest for another layer of flavor.

Place the garlic, ginger and 2 Tbsp. of the oil in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth. Use a rubber spatula and scrape the mixture into a container large enough to hold the rest of the ingredients. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the honey. Place the honey in a small glass jar and a microwave for about 30 to 60 seconds until melted. Pour into the container and shake well to mix. Taste and adjust ingredients. Make about 2 cups. 

Spring Pea Soup (Pareve or Dairy)

3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1-1/2 cups sliced leeks, white and pale green part only

3 shallots, finely minced

1/2 to 3/4 cup diced celery

5 to 6 cups vegetable broth, or half-broth, half-water

4 cups fresh shelled English peas (you can use frozen)

3 Tbsp. minced flat leaf parsley

1 tsp. minced fresh thyme

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Garnish: Basil oil, snipped chives

Heat a large soup pot and add the olive oil. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Add the leeks and shallots and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes. Add the celery and mix well. Cook, over medium heat, until the vegetables are softened, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the stock and heat until it starts to simmer. Add the peas and cook at a strong simmer for about 8 minutes, or until the peas are soft. Add the parsley and thyme and simmer for another minute or two. Turn off the heat. 

Puree batches of the soup in a blender until desired consistency. Pour the pureed soup into another pot. Place the pot in an ice water bath to cool the soup down as quickly as possible to retain the green color. Season as desired. Add cream or sour cream or crème fraiche as desired. Garnish with snipped chives or a drizzle of olive or basil oil. Serve hot or cold. 

Lemon Roasted Potatoes with Parsley Pesto and Peas (Dairy)

2 lbs. baby golden potatoes such as Yukon Gold

6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided

1/4 cup water

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 clove garlic

1/4 cup chives, finely minced

1/4 cup basil leaves

1/4 cup parsley leaves

1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish

3 Tbsp. parmesan cheese, more for garnish

2/3 cup fresh or frozen peas, thawed and blanched

Additional chives and Parmesan for garnish.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Cut the potatoes in half and place in a bowl. Add half the olive oil, half the lemon juice and the water and toss to coat. Pour into a roasting pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until the potatoes are tender and golden, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the potatoes to at bowl. 

Place the garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to mince. Add the chives, basil, parsley, hazelnuts, and Parmesan and pulse to mince. Add the remaining lemon juice and the olive oil and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and more lemon juice if needed. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Pour over the hot potatoes, add the peas, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with more chives and Parmesan and serve. Serves 4 to 6.