The pea, or pisum sativum, originated in the Near East although it now grows extensively all over the world. There are two basic types, usually classified as edible-podded or shelling peas, depending on whether the outer casing may be eaten or not.

Garden peas, the-most common form of shelling pea, may be bought fresh (when in season), canned or frozen. Peas are also dried and used whole or split in soups and stews.

To cook fresh garden peas, place 1 pound (weighed after shelling) in a large saucepan and pour over enough water just to cover. Add a little salt and, if you wish, Tasty and nourishing, Pea Soup with Ham makes a wonderfully warming start to lunch or supper. a sprig of mint. Place the pan over high heat and bring the water to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the peas for 10 to 12 minutes or until they are tender. Remove the pan from the heat and drain the peas in a colander. Add a little butter and serve.

Petits pois, the smallest and sweetest of the shelling peas, are cooked in the same way.

The MANGE-TOUT or snow pea is an edible-podded variety of pea and should be cooked in the same way as FRENCH BEANS.

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