Please pass the peas

Published 1:37 am Saturday, May 20, 2017

At church on a recent Sunday a parishioner said he was sending broccoli, new potatoes, etc. to market. I mentioned we had peas, peas, peas.

“Too early for peas,” he said.

No, not field peas which people usually refer to here in the Deep South when we talk of peas. We have English peas, edible podded or snap peas and snow peas. I like the edible podded peas for salads, sautéed in butter, and stir fries. Fresh shelled peas can be eaten raw in salads as well and are also great sautéed in butter. I sautéed edible podded and shelled peas in butter with mint for a great side the other night—quick and so simple.

I don’t notice fresh English peas in the markets and most recipes call for frozen peas, as they do freeze well. So for sweet fresh peas you may need to grow your own. I am growing two varieties this year: Knight, a short-vined early maturing pea, and Tall Telephone, an heirloom from 1891 which climbs 4-5’ (which means they have to be staked but you do not have to stoop to harvest) and produce some large pods and large peas. I am also growing sugar snap as an edible podded pea which is tall also, so no stooping to pick. I like edible podded peas better than the thinner snow peas. Pick the edible podded early if you wish them thin. The mint is nearby in the garden so when I pick peas it is nearby. I have a permanent fence on which the peas can climb.

If you can buy the fresh peas in the store, do so. If not, consider trying them next year in the garden. Plant in February. They can tolerate light frosts. I do not find planting them for a fall harvest is rewarding. The heat seems to last just too long and my peas don’t perform.

I tried a one-skillet dish using peas and asparagus, with the use of a grass-fed New York strip. Not a bad meal especially when the sauce for the steak was a spicy mustard. This meal gets all your good stuff in one skillet, this one cast iron. Worth a try!


One-Skillet Steak and Spring Vegetables with Spicy Mustard

From ‘bon appétit’ April 2017

4 servings


1 pound grass-fed boneless New York strip steak, patted dry

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

5 garlic cloves, 1 grated, 4 thinly sliced

1/3 cup Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

1-2 pinches cayenne pepper

1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, divided

10 ounces fresh peas, or 1 10-ounce bag frozen peas

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces

Season steak all over with salt and pepper.

Whisk grated garlic, mustard, vinegar, honey, cayenne, 1/3 cup oil, and 1 Tbsp. water in a medium bowl to combine; season spicy mustard with salt and pepper.

Heat a dry medium skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high. Rub steak all over with 1 Tbsp. oil and cook, turning every 2 minutes or so and making sure to get color on the fat cap, until medium-rare (about 10 minutes). Transfer steak to a plate to rest. Pour off oil from skillet, leaving crispy bits behind.

Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in same skillet over low. Add sliced garlic and all but about 2 Tbsp. scallions (save those for serving) and cook, stirring often, until translucent and softened, about 3 minutes. Add peas and a splash of water and cook, stirring and mashing to break up slightly, until peas are tender, about 5 minutes. Add asparagus; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until asparagus is just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Slice steak and shingle over vegetables in skillet. Drizzle some mustard sauce over steak and top with reserved scallions. Serve with remaining mustard sauce alongside.