I know that peas aren't everyone's favorite vegetable. They are very easy to grow and the flavor is superior to what is at the grocery. There are three basic types of peas- garden or English , sugar snap and snow peas. Both sugar snap and snow peas have tender, crisp edible pods, the English peas are shelling peas and you eat the sweet little peas inside. When picking peas from the garden- snow peas should be nice and flat, sugar snap peas should be evenly filled out and to test the English peas, open a pod with your thumb to see if the contents are green, small and fairly even in size. Over grown pods are tough and the peas will be mealy.
At the grocery look for small, bright green, glossy pods with fresh ends, avoiding dull, faded, yellowish, limp and overgrown pods when purchasing peas in the grocery. Sugar snap and snow peas are available pre-packaged in our local stores.
I have to admit I haven’t seen shelling peas even at a farmer’s market. Best to grow your own. They are low maintenance, just needs something to climb on like a piece of fence. Believe it or not, you can still plant some types of peas even this late in the season (June) for a crop 12 to 15 weeks from now.
Cooking peas- I have tried processing and freezing snow peas, but they are mushy when thawed, so if I have too many, I sliver them, then freeze, to throw into our egg roll mix that we make when we have too many cabbages later on in the growing season. We freeze a couple hundred for after school snacks and quick dinners. We didn’t like the frozen sugar snap peas, either. I like to blanch and freeze my shelling peas because they retain more of their color, flavor and nutritional value. Fresh garden peas are best when lightly steamed or simmered in a very small amount of liquid and served with a little butter. They are a popular vegetable in soups, stews and vegetable combinations. Snow peas, of course, are best known in stir fries. Sugar snaps are great served raw in salads or on a crudités tray with dip.
Broccoli is a thick flower stalk with masses of tight buds that are harvested and eaten before they open. Broccoli heads are forming in the garden now, with perhaps a few ready to pick. They key to picking broccoli is to cut the stem no more than 6” below the head, leaving the rest of the plant because there will be an abundance of side shoots to pick as the season goes on. Last year I was able to have garden fresh broccoli most of the summer, because I kept the side shoots cut and didn’t let them go to seed. Fresh garden broccoli often has worms living up inside the head- the best way to handle them is to soak the heads in very salty water- they will come right out.
When purchasing broccoli, they must have tight green heads with no yellowish sprouting to the flowers, avoiding wilt, and rust, yellowing, loose or flowering heads.
I like what is said about eating raw broccoli: This food is very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Protein, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Thiamin, Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Selenium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium and Manganese.
Broccoli is a very versatile veggie. Broccoli can simply be steamed or blanched crisp tender and served with butter, lemon or orange butter, hollandaise, cheese sauces, made into a yummy cream soup, tossed into salads and stir-fried.
Fresh Broccoli Salad
1 head broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
½ red onion, sliced thinly
½ batch Sweet Red Wine Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Blanch the broccoli for 2-3 minutes until crisp tender yet still bright green. Shock in ice water, drain and place in bowl. Add onion and toss with dressing just before serving to keep the broccoli from turning yellow.
Sweet Red Wine Vinaigrette
3 T water
1/3 c olive oil
2 T minced fresh parsley or fresh herb of choice
Place all of the ingredients, except chives and olive oil, together in a food processor or blender. With the motor on, slowly pour the olive oil into the processor until the ingredients are blended and the dressing is emulsified. Stir in chopped fresh herbs.
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