Peas are one of the first harbingers of the springtime vegetable bounty, and we look forward to them every year. All parts of the pea plant are edible. When they are young, the pea shoots are not just tender, they are also crisp and tasty. They have a pea-like flavor, but even fresher. Early pea shoots are a spring-time delight, both raw–as a decorative and delicious salad topper–or sautéed.
There are two types of mature peas: ones that can be eaten with the pod (sugar snap or snow) and ones where the peas must be removed from the pod (shelling). For sugar snap or snow peas, choose a smaller pod so that it is more sweet and tender.
All peas are best eaten extremely fresh, but will keep in the fridge, in an open plastic bag, for up to three days. Peas can also be frozen by trimming the ends, blanching (a quick bath in boiled water), cooled and placed in freezer bags.
Rinse all peas before preparing. For sugar snap peas, snap off one end and pull the string along the side of the pod out. Sugar snap peas are excellent raw, and make a great addition to any salad. Snow peas are most commonly used in stir fry — be sure to add at the very end of the cooking process to retain the color and nutrient content of the pea.