That silly advert that states “life’s too short to pod a pea” really annoys me. I believe life is too short NOT to pod peas. Sitting with a pile of pea pods on my lap quietly shelling them and scooping the tiny green treasures into a bowl is one of life’s little joys. Picking them right off the vine to pop into your mouth, is another. Peas are easy to grow and even if you only harvest a few, the flowers and delicate tendrils are edible too.
Pea season is almost over, so today was a bit of a peafest at my house. My friend Des thinks it’s a bit odd to munch peas for breakfast, but I often do. Scrambled with some farmyard eggs they make the scrummiest meal. Another favourite way to eat them is in a salad with lettuce, creamy goat’s cheese and mint. I didn’t have any goat’s cheese today, but Sharon’s fabulous feta did the job perfectly, with some just picked cinnamon cos and spring onions. When carbos are required, I substitute the lettuce with linguini for a really summery treat. Drizzled with olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon, this really is one of the nicest ways to enjoy fresh peas. New season peas are great braised with lettuce and I have always wanted to try the Indian dish of fresh curd cheese with peas (I just never seem to have a big enough crop to do everything!). I was fortunate that when I walked down to the Dargle Local Market this week, Debbie Hayes had a brown paper bag full of peas she had grown along the Petrus stroom Road, for sale. The rest of the year, I make do with occasional frozen petit pois – they are great actually. My favourite way of using them is to warm through and then blitz into a puree with olive oil, salt, pepper and lemonjuice. A gorgeous, bright green gloop that is perfect to dip things into or make interesting canapes. Pea risotto is also fine to make with frozen peas, and delicious.
This year, my pea havest was not very good. I think I planted a bit too late. I tried two new sorts of open pollinated seeds – De Grace and Tall Telephone – which I got from www.livingseeds.co.za. I am saving the last pods to dry as seeds for next season. I have recently learnt that one should not grow peas and tomatoes in the same place. Unfortunately, I did just that because the tripods that held up the tomatoes last summer were free to do the same for the peas during winter. Better planning is required this time and I hope to plant peas in March. All peas like to climb, even the dwarf varieties. They like growing near lettuce and radishes and really dislike onions of any sort. As they are the legume family, they also fix nitrogen in the soil, so make good green manures.
Peas seem both wonderfully old fashioned and seriously trendy at the same time. I love them.