Market Mondays – Peas

I eat my peas with honey,
I’ve done it all my life,
It does taste kind of funny,
But it keeps them on my knife. – Anonymous

Most commonly found in mixed frozen vegetables, the humble pea is one of the most versatile vegetables out there. Eaten fresh, dried, frozen or canned, peas  can be used in soups, stews, pies, risotto or curries, or fried and served as a snack.

The pea is actually a fruit, but is considered a vegetable for cooking purposes. There are many varieties of peas from sweet peas to snow peas or sugar snap peas, with some growing as vines and others low-growing plants suited to field cultivation. In Ontario, peas are at their peak in June and July.

The use of peas dates back to the Middle Ages when they were part of the typical diet along with broad beans and lentils. Peas are eaten throughout the world from Asia and India to Europe and North America.

Peas are an excellent source of folacin (Vitamin B9). They are also a source of Vitamins A and C, fibre and potassium. A half cup of cooked peas is only 70 calories.

Sweet Pea Soup
from Christopher Palik, Executive Chef, L-Eat Catering and Paese Ristorante

1 pound of fresh shelling peas
1 pound of fresh chicken bones
1 medium white onion
1 stick of celery
1 medium carrot
1 clove of garlic
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of fresh mint
2 tbsp of freshly grated Pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano

Makes enough for 2 heaping bowls of soup

Start by rinsing the chicken bones under cold running water. Peel and chop the carrot and the white onion into a smallish dice. Peel the clove of garlic and crush with the back of a knife, cut the celery into smallish pieces as well. Place the cut vegetables in to the sauce pot with the chicken bones and the bay leaf. Cover with 4 cups of water. Bring to a simmer; skim any impurities that rise to the surface. Simmer for twenty minutes.

While the chicken stock is simmering peel the peas reserving the pods. Turn off the chicken stock and place the reserved pea pods in the stock steeping them for 5 minutes. Strain the chicken stock and return it to the sauce pot. Bring back to a simmer and toss in the peas. Cook for 1 minute and remove from the heat, season to taste. Ladle into bowls, shred some mint into each bowl and sprinkle with some of the grated cheese.

Green Pea Masala
from Chef Hubert DMello, Udupi Palace Toronto

400gm green peas
30ml oil
salt to taste
100gm onion
70gm tomato
3 chilli peppers
30gm ginger
2 flakes garlic
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 spoon turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground coriander
50gm cashew nut paste
coriander leaves for garnish
1 cup water or vegetable stock

Boil green peas until tender.

Chop the onions, tomatoes, green chillies and make a paste of ginger and garlic. Sauté the onion, tomato and green chilly with oil, then add ginger garlic paste. When the onions become brown add all the spices. Mix it well and add water or veg stock.

Salt to taste then add boiled green peas keep it on slow fire for 5 minutes, if necessary cashew nut paste, garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot.

Cava’s Chilled Pea Soup with Sea Scallop Ceviche
from Chef Chris MacDonald, Cava

Serves 8 as a first course.

2.5 kg fresh peas, shelled, pods reserved
1 small onion, minced
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed, plus 2 tablespoons
Mint, leaves removed and stems reserved
Salt and white pepper, to taste

Sea Scallop Ceviche:
1/2 lb. sea scallops, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. minced red onion – soaked in ice water for 20 minutes and strained.
1 Tbsp. minced red pepper
1/2 Tbsp. minced jalapeño
1/2 cup lime juice
1 Tbsp of basil, preferably tropical (Thai), thinly julienned
Sea salt to taste

Prepare the pea stock: Place the pea pods in a saucepan. Cover with about 1.5 litres of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Then immediately lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover pot, leaving the pods in stock, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Strain stock, discarding pods. You should have 1 litre of liquid.

Sauté the onion in 2 tablespoons foamy butter until softened but not browned, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook peas until tender, about 5 minutes. Strain peas and immediately place in an ice bath to preserve colour.

In batches, blend peas, with the onion and 3-4 fresh mint leaves, using the pea stock to obtain to a thin purée. Once all the peas have been processed, season with salt and pepper. Thin with additional stock if necessary, adding water if you have used up all the pea stock. Chill soup until time to serve.

Combine all the ceviche ingredients at least 30 minutes but not more than 2 hours before serving, refrigerated. Drain discarding liquid. Adjust salt if necessary.

Ladle soup into eight chilled soup bowls. Carefully garnish each bowl with the ceviche and serve.