Let’s talk peas and q’s.

Okay, let’s just talk peas.

In New Jersey, peas are available fresh from local farms and farmers markets in late spring and early summer. They like the cool weather and hate the heat.

Peas come in a variety of types. There are the traditional English shelling peas. There are snow peas, and there are sugar snap peas. All of them can be eaten raw as well as cooked. Personally, I prefer uncooked, straight from the garden.

Let’s start with English shelling peas. These peas are taken out (shelled) of their pods. When selecting, bigger isn’t always better. The bigger, fatter pea pods usually have starchier peas. You want to select pods with smaller round peas inside. The pods should be a bright green, not a faded yellow green. Those are too old.

To shell the pea pods, be sure to wash off the shells. Then go out and sit on your front porch in a rocking chair with a bowl, (just kidding), and start shelling. You can pull off the stem end and pull the string down the side or you can just pop them open.

Extract the peas and discard the shells.

Next are snow peas. These are edible pods. Snow peas can come in a variety of colors from the traditional green to yellow and even purple snow peas.

When selecting, look for flat shells. You don’t want developed peas inside. If peas inside are too big, you can shell them and eat them like regular peas, but you’ll have to discard the shells because they will be too tough to eat.

To prepare for eating (cooked or raw), I always take off a tiny, dried paper looking blossom on the end. It’s not necessary.

Snow peas aren’t just for stir fry. You can add them raw to salads and you can cook them in many different dishes.

Now for the sugar snap peas, my favorite. Sugar snap peas, also known as snap peas, are a cross between the English shelling peas and snow peas.

These peas look just like shelling peas but snap peas are eaten whole. Look for round green pods. You don’t want to see bumps on the pod from the peas inside, though. These are too old. The shells will be tough and peas starchy.

To prepare, rinse the shells. This is all that some people do, but I prefer to take off the string that holds the two sides together.

Just pinch an end and gently pull it down. You goal is to remove the string without opening the pod. Don’t worry, if you do you can still eat the peas and the pods, just separately.

After purchasing your fresh peas from local farm stands or farmers market, try using one of these recipes.


16 oz. fresh peas

6 strips bacon cooked and cut into small pieces

1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 c. diced red onion

1 cup mayonnaise

salt and pepper

In a large mixing bowl combine the peas, cut bacon, diced red onions, shredded cheese, and mayonnaise, and mix all pea salad ingredients together well.

Season salad with salt and pepper and mix again to incorporate seasonings.

Refrigerate pea salad 4 hours or overnight. Mix well before serving to prevent settling.

Chill for at least 4 hours and keep cold prior to serving.



This is quick and easy.

1/2 lb. fresh snow peas

1 Tbs. water

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 Tbsp. butter, melted

1 tsp. lemon juice

1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning

(I have also used lemon pepper instead of the Italian seasoning)

In a microwave-safe dish, combine the snow peas, water and garlic. Cover and microwave on high for 3-4 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain. Combine the butter, lemon juice and Italian seasoning. Drizzle over peas; toss to coat.



1 1/2 lb. red new potatoes, rinsed and scrubbed

10 oz. fresh sugar snap peas

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 c. fresh chopped chives

1 tsp. lemon zest

Fresh coarse ground pepper and Kosher salt

Cut the potatoes into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Place in a medium pan and cover with cold water. Add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce heat slightly and simmer for about 15 minutes or until just barely tender. Drain and set aside.

While potatoes are cooking, remove strings from sugar snap peas (if necessary).

Heat a large non-stick skillet for about 1 minutes over medium heat. Add olive oil and sugar snap peas. Add a pinch or two of salt and sauté over medium heat until just crisp tender, about 2 minutes.

Add potatoes to skillet and sauté until just heated through, about 1 minute longer.

Season to taste with additional Kosher salt and several grinds of pepper.

Just before serving, sprinkle with lemon zest. Serves 4 as a side dish.

Check online for a dessert featuring peas. If you made my chocolate asparagus cupcakes, then you’re adventurous enough for this one.



2 c. fresh or frozen peas

¾ c. butter room temperature

¾ c. sugar

3 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

zest and juice of ½ lemon

2 c. all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt


⅔ c. butter room temperature

2 ½ c. powdered icing sugar

Zest and juice of ½ a lemon


Pea shoots optional

lemon zest optional

For the Vanilla Pea Cake:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and line two 9” cake pans.

Boil the peas for a few minutes, drain, refresh under cold water and puree until completely smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the cooled pea puree, vanilla, zest, and lemon juice.

Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and stir to gently combine.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tins, push to the edges and level, then bake for 25 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the tins and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

For the Lemon Frosting:

In a large bowl, cream the butter until fluffy. Add in the icing sugar and beat. Beat in the zest and a little of the lemon juice. Add more lemon juice to make it a frosting consistency and beat again. Store in the fridge until ready to use.

To Assemble:

Spread a little of the buttercream between the layers of the completely cooled cakes and sandwich together. Cover the cake in the remaining buttercream and decorate with pea shoots and lemon zest.


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