Cooking,  Local Products

Find it Local Friday: Green Peas

I have had a serious case of kitchen un-inspiration this week.  When you’re documenting food, the problem goes beyond just writer’s block.  You have to first motivate yourself to cook something, photograph something, write about this something, and then make it all appealing to someone else.  Any hiccup in the supply chain threatens the chances of worthwhile content.  This week, troubles fell mostly in the motivation to cook.  Meals this week were basic: cooked vegetables with a side of cooked vegetables.  Tasty, but no dramatic flair.

But then I stumbled on a vegetables episode of Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home. My adopted kitchen godmother steps in and solves the inspiration troubles with my favorite line of the show: “I suppose how much butter you add…depends on how you feel about butter,” (followed by a massive dab of butter dropped in the pan). One vegetable they prepared inspired me to get out of my kitchen funk and get into a seasonal vegetable ready now: peas.

The Farmers’ Market Peas are easiest to find at the farmers’ market; nearly every produce vendor has them available this time of year. Expect to buy in 1 lb. quantities or if you’re ambitious grab a larger peck-size bucket for freezing.
Carman Berry Farm located in Wadena, MN roughly 170 miles north of St. Paul
Although you might have to catch this pick-your-own pea patch on the way up to the cabin, they are one of the few places Minnesota Grown lists in the state. With the strawberries ready at Carman also you could double-up on early summer treats!
Grow your own
As long as you select the correct variety for your space, peas are one of the easiest vegetables to grow in your garden. We even have a bush-type snap pea in our Little Acre container garden. It’s not too late to grow peas this season yet either! Many gardeners will harvest a crop in the cooler late-summer soils. Check out the U of M Extension office for more info.

How to Buy Peas

At the farmers’ market you will find peas in three common forms: snap peas (non-edible pods), snow peas (edible pods), and pea shoots. Snap peas require shucking the peas from the pods, and are great for classic pea dishes like the one I’ve included below. Snow pea varieties are terrific raw on salads or generously added to stir fry. Pea shoots are the most uncommon form, but yet one of the tastiest. Pea shoots are the young pea plant that can be substituted as a green in salads and sandwiches, or used in stir fries like Bok choy.  My nephews like them best dipped in a little ranch dressing! Look for large peas with even, spring green color.  If buying snap peas, avoid any that seem bulging or overgrown–the peas will likely be starchy and bitter. When you shuck them, place in a bowl of water; the peas that are high in sugar (tastier) will float while the older, bitter peas will sink. Save the sweeter ones for eating raw and use the rest in this recipe:

Steamed Peas with Soy Sauce


2 C. snap peas, shucked and washed
1 Tbsp. butter (or more depending on how you feel about butter)
1 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. soy sauce
1. Place all ingredients in a medium sauce pan with a tight-fitting lid. Place cover on and pan over medium heat. Every 2-3 minutes, gently shake the pan to stir the peas (this avoids letting steam escape and searing the peas to the bottom of the pan). Cook for 8-9 minutes until the peas are tender.




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