English peas—sometimes called garden peas or pod peas—have a fresh, slightly grassy flavor that is the essence of spring. English peas are wonderful puréed and made into a creamy soup or spread. They add bright points of color and flavor to pilafs, risotto, fried rice, pasta and soups. Steamed and sprinkled with fresh mint or parsley, they make a wonderful side dish.
Pods should be bright green and feel heavy. Each 1 pound of whole pods yields about 1 cup of shelled peas so pay attention to the desired measurement in your recipe.
Their sugars convert quickly to starch, so English peas are best eaten the day they are purchased. If needed, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Shell peas right before cooking them in order to keep them from drying out. Once shelled, peas can be briefly cooked in 1/4 inch of simmering water for 3 to 4 minutes. They will quickly turn soggy and lose their vibrant color, so it is important not to overcook them.