BY HOLLY E. THOMAS
Peas offer impressive versatility—especially when you prepare them using sous vide techniques. You can try compressing and slicing them paper-thin for a carpaccio, or transforming them into a savory crust with breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and herbs to give satisfying crunch to a cod filet. Feeling adventurous? Experiment with cryoconcentration and turn a handful of pea varieties into a refreshing chilled soup garnished with crisp croutons. Here are some pea varieties to look out for at the grocery store or your local farmer’s market.
Also known as “garden peas,” sweet English peas taste best when you can enjoy them as fresh from the field as possible. The sugars begin converting to starch immediately after the pod is removed from the plant, and the pods start to toughen. (Those tougher pods are ideal for boosting the flavor of vegetable stock, however—so don’t toss them aside.)
A cross between the snow pea and garden pea, the refreshingly crisp snap pea has an edible pod, which means it can be enjoyed raw or cooked.
Don’t let the name fool you—fava beans aren’t actually beans. The fava bean is considered part of the pea family, and it’s also one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. Valued for their health benefits, fava beans are high in fiber, iron, and protein.
PURPLE SNOW PEAS
Purple snow peas get their vibrant coloring from anthocyanins, the natural colorants that are responsible for red, purple, and blue fruits and vegetables. Anthocyanins have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Snow peas are sometimes referred to as Chinese pea pods due to their popularity in stir-fry dishes. This pea variety has a milder flavor than some of its cousins, as well as an edible pod that can be eaten raw or cooked.