Pleasing ways with peas

March 20, 1996|By Carol J.G. Ward | Carol J.G. Ward,KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWS SERVICE

Getting good nutrition is a snap with peas. They're high in protein and fiber and low in fat and sodium, and contain no cholesterol.

Fresh green peas, also known as English peas, shell peas or garden peas, also are an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of vitamin C and iron, writes Carol Ann Rinzler in "The Complete Book of Food."

When buying peas, look for fresh, firm, bright-green pea pods. The pods should feel velvety, and fresh pea pods should be plump and unblemished and look full with round fat peas inside.

Avoid pale, flat, wilted or yellowed pods and pods with gray flecks.

Loose fresh peas should be bright green, glossy, crunchy and sweet.

Store peas unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for about two days, and shell just before using. To prepare, wash the pods, cut off the end, pull away the string running down the side and shell the peas.

When green peas are cooked in water, the chlorophyll in them reacts with the acids they contain, turning them olive drab, Ms. Rinzler writes.

To keep peas green, cook in lots of water, leave the lid off the pot, or steam or stir-fry peas quickly so they cook before reaction can take place.

Be careful not to overcook peas; they should be crisp-tender when done. Overdone peas will lose their bright green color and much of their fresh flavor. Remember, young green peas are wonderful raw in salads.

If you're using frozen peas, you don't need to defrost them before adding them to a cooked dish. Just stir them in a few minutes before the dish is done. The heat of the dish will cook them just enough.

For pea salads, pour cold water over the frozen peas and let stand about five minutes or until the peas are defrosted. Drain well and add to the salad.

This recipe is from "Beyond Parsley," a collection of the Junior League of Kansas City, Mo.

Pea pod salad

6 to 8 servings

12 to 16 ounces pea pods, cooked until tender-crisp and chilled

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 5-ounce can water chestnuts, drained and sliced

1 bunch scallions, chopped

DRESSING:

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 clove garlic, minced

Combine dressing ingredients and mix well. Place pea pods, tomatoes, water chestnuts and scallions in a salad bowl. Toss with dressing just before serving.

Pub Date: 3/20/96

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