For most of the year, you're much better off cooking with frozen peas (both English peas and snap peas) than fresh ones: They freeze well, and fresh peas are noticeably less tasty even one day after picking, so I'll take a flash-frozen pea over one that's been shipped across the world almost any time. But, for a brief period in spring, you can find beautiful, bright green sweet and snap peas at your local farmers market, which is why you ought to seize on this narrow window to prepare dishes that really highlight these ingredients. Blanching is one of the best ways to preserve their flavor, but there's so much you can do with them. Keep reading for 14 recipes that take full advantage of the fresh pea season.
Asparagus and Sweet Pea Frittata With Minty Spring Salad
Perfect for a spring brunch or light dinner, this simple frittata combines sweet peas with grassy chopped asparagus stalks. To make it a full meal, toss together a salad of raw shaved asparagus, pea shoots, and refreshing mint leaves. We choose pea shoots because they underscore nicely the peas in the frittata, but they can be difficult to find—feel free to substitute other tender greens.
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Warm Farro Salad With Asparagus, Peas, and Feta
Mildly nutty in flavor, with a tender yet substantial texture when cooked, farro is one of my favorite whole grains. For this salad, we add peas and kale to still-warm farro to soften them just slightly, then toss in a mixture of raw and cooked asparagus. Almonds and feta add crunch and creaminess, and a spicy, pungent Dijon vinaigrette finishes it off.
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Basmati Rice and Pea Pilaf (Peas Pulao)
This version of rice pilaf, a staple of Indian cooking, is studded with sweet peas to provide little pops of bright flavor. The rice itself is wonderfully aromatic thanks to a variety of spices (cloves, cinnamon, and cumin), plus onions and green chilies. It's best served with daal or a fresh-tasting cucumber raita.
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Make-Ahead Pea Soup With Shallot, Lemon, and Parmesan
A far cry from the familiar ham- and cream-laden soup made with dried peas, this lighter take puts the focus squarely on the flavor of fresh ones. We make it with onion, shallot, mint, and lemon rind, blanching the rind multiple times to tame its bitterness while leaving its invigorating citrus flavor. The soup reheats well and is even delicious cold, so make it at the start of the week and take it to work for an easy lunch.
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Whole-Wheat Linguine With Pancetta, Peas, Corn, and Mint
This pasta dish combines sweet peas and corn with the saltiness of pancetta and aromatic shallots and mint, and does it all in a single pot. We add the corn and peas at the very end to just barely cook them, preserving their freshness. Whole-wheat pasta is our choice for extra flavor, but regular linguine is fine, too.
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Easy One-Pot, No-Knife, Lighter Tuna Noodle Casserole
This is decidedly not the tuna noodle casserole you sat down to as a kid. For one thing, we use crème fraîche and lemon juice, thickened with egg and cornstarch, to make a creamy, lightly tangy sauce that feels an order of magnitude more sophisticated than the canned-soup kind. For another, it requires even less equipment—all you need is a pot, a bowl, a burner, and a fork. If you want some extra crunch, we recommend a sprinkling of crushed potato chips on the finished product.
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Spicy Orecchiette With Tuna, Peas, and Lemon
Much like our tuna noodle casserole but without the dairy, this one-pot dish combines orecchiette with good-quality canned tuna, peas, and a healthy dose of lemon zest. We sauce the pasta very simply with a piquant chili- and garlic-infused olive oil. Any chunky pasta shapes will work, but the cuplike form of orecchiette is particularly good for grabbing the tuna and peas.
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Quick-Pickled Snap Peas With Mint and Fennel
The high sugar levels in snap peas make them a great foil for a vinegary pickle brine. Here, we use rice wine vinegar, which has a delicate flavor that won't drown out the peas. Mint is a classic complement to peas, and fennel seeds provide just a touch of anise flavor.
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Stir-Fried Snap Peas and Mushrooms With Fish Sauce and Basil
There's a reason crunchy yet tender snap peas often find their way into stir-fries—the high heat of a wok gives them a beautiful char. And mushrooms, which can easily withstand being cooked, held, and reheated, are just as well suited to the technique. In this recipe, ideal for a quick weeknight dinner, we stir-fry both ingredients simply with basil and a Southeast Asian–inspired sauce made of fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice.
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Stir-Fried Beef With Snap Peas and Oyster Sauce
For this stir-fry, we pair crispy snap peas with skirt steak, which we consider the best cut of beef for stir-frying due to its marinade-friendly loose grain and its thin, quick-cooking strip form. Marinate the beef after slicing it for the best texture. We use a traditional sweet oyster sauce for this recipe, blending oyster sauce, chicken broth, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and Chinese rice wine.
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Pasta With Snap Peas, Garlic, Lemon Zest, and Black Pepper
When we want a quick-and-dirty pasta sauce, we often add butter to the cooking liquid, since it's better than olive oil at emulsifying with water. But, with the addition of a bit of cornstarch, olive oil can emulsify just as well as butter—meaning that vegans can enjoy a creamy, smooth coating of sauce on their pasta just like everyone else. We put that approach to use in this dairy-free dish of crispy snap peas, ridged pasta, bright lemon, and lots of freshly ground pepper.
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Spring Salad of Asparagus, Ramps, Snap Peas, and Peas With Poached Egg and Lemon Zest Vinaigrette
Why pick between sweet peas and snap peas, when you can pile both (plus pea shoots, asparagus, ramps, and/or any other spring vegetables at the farmers market that look good) into a single flavor-packed salad? We blanch each vegetable separately, then shock it in ice water so as not to overcook anything. A poached egg on top and a little acidity from a lemon vinaigrette tie it all together.
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Peas and Carrots Salad With Goat Cheese and Almonds
Peas and carrots are a time-honored combination, just like Jenny and Forrest Gump, but we think they're due for an upgrade. In this salad, we mix fresh sweet peas, snap peas, and diminutive baby carrots with honey for sweetness, goat cheese for creamy texture, and Marcona almonds for crunch. To dress it, whip up a quick vinaigrette with lemon juice, olive oil, a dab of mustard, and toasted pumpkin seed oil (or any nutty oil).
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Cheesy Grits With Spring Vegetables
This recipe balances out the creamiest, cheesiest, most rib-sticking grits your mind can conjure with a solid dose of green vegetables—including snap peas, sweet peas, fava beans, and asparagus. To keep the vegetables tasting fresh, we blanch them before sautéing them in butter just long enough to form a good glaze.