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Let’s Dish About Delicious Sweet, Summer Peas

By MaryAnn Miano

The petite pea, sweet as can be, adds to any summer dish. Fleshy peas are actually the seed of the pod, which is the fruit. The pod of the pea is the vegetable and is a member of the legume family. Peas date back to biblical times and were cultivated during the earliest agrarian societies, but they became most popular during the 17th century during the French court of King Louis XIV. They became “common” and more affordable during the 18th century. The English developed fine varieties, hence the common designation “English peas” in America.

Delicate peas can be eaten right out of the pod, or peas can be purchased in cans, frozen or dried. Peas are at their tastiest beginning in late spring or early summer. Try to purchase them from a farmer’s market right after harvest, as their sugars convert to starch quickly, taking away from their flavor and sweetness. Fresh is always best. Give the job of shelling peas to your kids; they’ll consider it fun! Peas need only be blanched or steamed for two to four minutes. Add them to salads, rice dishes or pasta. Usually you will find three varieties available: shelling peas, sugar snap peas and snow peas.

The succulent pea has more than great taste in its favor. They are full of vitamins such as A, C, K and wide range of Bs, and powerhouses of minerals such as iron, potassium and phosphorus, so you’ll know you are offering your family a wonderful vegetable to eat. Peas are also high in protein, carbohydrate, folate and fiber. Let’s not forget their antioxidant properties of lutein and zeaxanthin – quite a package of nutrition!

Try the following refreshing recipes as part of a fun summer barbeque!


8 eggs

8 slices bacon

2 heads romaine lettuce, rinsed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces

1 (16 oz.) package frozen green peas, thawed

2 cups mayonnaise

3 tablespoons white sugar

2 tablespoons fat-free milk

3 cups shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Place eggs in a saucepan and over completely with cold water. Bring water to a boil for 1 minute. Cover, remove from heat and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water and cool. Peel. Slice egg with an egg slicer or crumble.
  2. Place bacon in large skillet. Cook, turning frequently, over medium-high heat until evenly browned. Spread romaine lettuce in a 9×13 inch baking dish. Layer crumbled bacon, peas and eggs over the lettuce.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, sugar and milk until smooth. Pour over salad and top with cheese. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours before serving.



¼ cup olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 large garlic clove, chopped

2 teaspoons tomato paste

1 14-oz. can peeled Italian plum tomatoes

Pinch of dried basil, mint and red pepper flakes

1 8-oz. can medium-size sweet peas

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 pound small shells, ditalini or elbow macaroni

Freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese for garnish


  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan, and sauté the onion and garlic. When transparent, add the tomato paste. Mix well.
  2. Add the canned tomatoes and juices, squeezing the tomatoes to break them up. Sauté for a minute or two, then add basil, mint and red pepper flakes. Stir gently for about 3 minutes over medium-low heat. Add the undrained can of peas. Simmer the sauce while you cook the pasta, adding more seasonings if desired and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Meanwhile, bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta. Boil rapidly, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until tender. Drain in a colander, reserving 2 cups of the water. Do not rinse. Transfer the pasta back to the pot, and add the tomato sauce and peas mixture.
  4. Stir gently and add the pasta water until the sauce produces a nice broth.
  5. Serve in a bowl immediately with plenty of grated cheese.


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