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fresh peas

Photo from Pexels

By Barbara Beltrami

Photo from Pexels

I was walking out of the supermarket the other day, and there it was! A metal kiosk of seed packets, for me the first harbinger of spring, the first palpable beckoning to my garden. As I spun the rack and ogled the brightly colored envelopes, I knew what I was looking for … peas! They’re always the first seeds I plant and because I don’t have a huge space in which to grow them, I usually get a rather spare harvest, but one generous enough to give me a nice trio of dishes to use the peas in. And while frozen peas are one of the better substitutes for a fresh vegetable, they can’t compare with fresh ones. That’s why I like to cook them with as little adulteration as possible. 

Fresh Peas with Butter, Mint, and Chives

YIELD: Makes 2 servings


1 cup shelled fresh peas

1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

3 mint leaves, minced

2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives

Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste


Cook peas in boiling salted water until tender, about two minutes; drain and place in a medium bowl; toss with butter, mint and chives; add salt and pepper and serve hot or warm with poached salmon or grilled lamb chops.

Fresh Pea and Spring Vegetable Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


2 cups freshly shelled peas

8 baby potatoes, peeled

8 fresh asparagus stalks, trimmed

1/4 cup snipped fresh chives

1 small shallot minced

1/2 celery rib, minced

1 carrot, peeled and shredded

4 radishes, scrubbed and thinly sliced

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 to 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Salt and pepper to taste


Cook peas in boiling salted water until tender, about two minutes; drain and place in large bowl. Dice potatoes and cook in boiling salted water until tender, about 5 minutes; drain and place in bowl with peas. Steam asparagus stalks until tender but still bright green, about 5 to 7 minutes. When cool enough to handle, trim off tips, then cut stalks into half-inch pieces; put tips and stalk pieces in bowl with peas and potatoes, then add chives, shallot, celery, carrot and radish slices. In small bowl vigorously whisk together oil, vinegar, mustard, mayonnaise and salt and pepper; when emulsified pour over pea mixture and toss to combine thoroughly. Serve warm or at room temperature with fish, poultry or meat.

Farfalle with Fresh Peas, Prosciutto and Scallions

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6  servings


1 pound farfalle pasta (bow ties)

1 1/2 pounds peas in pods

8 ounces unsalted butter

1/2 pound thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into bite-size pieces

4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper


Cook pasta according to package directions, but about 2 minutes before it’s done add peas to the water. When pasta is al dente and peas are tender, after about two minutes, drain them but reserve 1 1/2 cups cooking water. In large heavy pot over medium heat melt butter until it is foamy. Add prosciutto pieces and scallions to pot and, stirring frequently, cook until prosciutto starts to get crispy and scallions are wilted, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add cooked pasta, peas, cheese, and one cup of reserved pasta water to pot with prosciutto; cook over medium heat, tossing vigorously and adding more pasta water if necessary, until creamy, about half a minute; season with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a baby arugula salad.