Frozen peas – or their diminutive relative frozen petis pois which are sweeter – are a boon to have in the freezer. They cost very little, you can make lots of dishes with them from a starter to a main course, and they take little or no work to cook. They are often fresher and brighter in flavour than fresh peas which may have lost some of their goodness while travelling to the supermarket or greengrocers.
Peas with pancetta: fry strips of pancetta with chopped shallot and add to cooked frozen peas. Or instead of pancetta, try finely shredded Parma or Serrano ham or strips of salty streaky bacon. You can also use the bacon off-cuts you find in the supermarket – just make sure to chop them evenly before you fry them.
Petis Pois á la Francaise: sauté sliced spring onions in butter, add shredded iceberg lettuce, frozen peas and a little vegetable or chicken stock. Cook until the lettuce and peas are soft and the liquid is reduced. Check the seasoning and add salt, if required, and freshly ground black pepper. Serve with any fish or roast meat.
Pea Soup with Mint and Kefir: cook the frozen peas in water or stock for about 5 minutes in just enough water to cover them. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Blend or process with fresh mint leaves until smooth, adding as much water as you need to make a thick soup. Add a little kefir (or buttermilk) to thin it out and whizz again. If you don’t want to use kefir (it’s a healthy fermented yogurt-like drink you that you buy in the Polish snd Moldovan shops), use creme fraiche, yogurt or cream. Return the soup to a clean saucepan and reheat gently.
Add peas to salad: Defrost frozen peas and add them to salads – you don’t even need to cook them. To make a spicy corn and pea salad: make a dressing from 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar and a teaspoon of mustard and add enough honey to sweeten to your taste. Pour the dressing into a large bowl. Add a drained and rinsed tin of sweetcorn along with a handful of defrosted peas, one finely chopped red pepper, 1 finely chopped red onion, 1 finely chopped de-seeded red or green chilli and a few halved ripe cherry tomatoes. Season the salad. Serve with chargrilled chicken breasts.
Pea and Roast Garlic Mash: squish a few cloves of roast garlic into a bowl of hot mashed buttery potatoes, add a handful or two of cooked peas and mash lightly. (Roast the garlic at the same time as you are roasting meat. If you are not using it immediately, squish the warm flesh from the cloves into olive oil, leave to cool and cover and store in the fridge for a few days – fish out the garlic and add to the potato mixture above.) To make Pea and Roast Garlic Potato Cakes, follow the instructions above, but don’t add butter to the mash (it will make them too soft). Leave the mash to cool, form into patties, chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up, remove and dust with flour and fry in butter until both sides are golden.
FROZEN PEA TIP: Here’s an easy way to store frozen peas in the freezer: divide the peas into portions and pack into ziplock bags – you’ll be able to pack them in smaller spaces in the freezer and they are easy to remove as they don’t get frozen into one big block.
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