Friday, 1 April 2011

Give Peas a Chance!

"How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways..." Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1806-1861, Sonnets from the Portuguese, 43.

Ah the humble pea?  Peas are somewhat sullied by the bad company they often keep. But that is to do the humble pea a disservice - they deserve so much more than fish fingers and oven chips.  Kept apart from such common fare, they make fantastic pea soup, are lovely minted, make a lovely bed for other vegetables, contrast so well with carrots and sweetcorn and are a really great side to roast chicken and gravy. 

Why does it have to be frozen?  Well, it doesn't, but let's face it, most of the time in my household, it is.  I'm not actually sure fresh peas taste any better, although there is much pleasure to be had in the task of shelling.  I daren't count the number of times in a week that I reach into the freezer for a handful of frozen peas.  To me, they are a garnish, a flourish, beautiful flecks of colour across an omelette, scattered across pasta, nestling in a school besides mash potato, a bowl on their own with melting butter.  To their credit, they are nearly always there (a freezer stalwart), they cook in four minutes, provide folic acid and my kids have no strong aversion to them.  They've recently been enjoying a book by Kes Grey and Nick Sharratt called "Eat Your Peas" about a girl's mother bribing her to eat the small green balls.  This hasn't put them off, although there are now distractions of lining them up for counting or using them to craft a picture. 

Don't be embarrassed to get out those frozen peas or be put off by the strange afterlife they lead in their dehydrated form after they've rolled under the cooker.  I'll be back to the freezer for another quick fix.

My Favourite Frozen Vegetables:
1. Peas (see above)
2. Sweetcorn (also corn on the cob)
3. Broad beans (a joy!)
4. Spinach (so easy, though it can have a slight metallic flavour)
5. French beans

Vegetables that should NOT be frozen:
1. Broccoli (water retention problems)
2. Mushrooms (ditto)
3. Carrots (they have a mushy edge)
4. Asparagus (just not themselves)

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