A number of stories involving peas floated around my house growing up. There’s the tale about my older brother, who, as a toddler, squirreled away a storehouse of the tiny green orbs in his cheek during a feeding, only to expel them, cannonball-style, at my parents later. There’s also the story my mom would tell of a prom date that despised peas. During their posh pre-prom dinner, he secretly hid one pea at a time under his dinner plate, only to have his deed made public when a waiter removed his dish, revealing the semi-circle of peas beneath it.
As for me, I’ve never met a pea I didn’t like. Snuggled alongside butter, pureed with fresh herbs into a savory dip, baked into a samosa or swimming in a chicken pot pie, wherever peas are involved, I’m a fan. And so, today’s Small Measures with Ashley pays tribute to the verdant legume, with ideas for creating your own pea trellis and a recipe for a delectable Pea & Spring Herbs Frittata. — Ashley
CLICK HERE for the rest of the post and a delicious recipe for a pea frittata after the jump!
If you’ve ever wanted to pick fresh peas straight out of your own yard, now is the time. Early spring to June is prime pea season. Peas require little in terms of horizontal space. As climbing, vining plants, they’re much more interested in moving on up vertically. Hubs and I recently created this pea planter and trellis. Here’s what was involved:
Planter: We used 2″ x 12″ x 8′ wood planks for the front and back of the planter. On the sides, you can use whatever depth you desire; we opted to use 2″ x 12″ x 10″ planks. The corners are held together with metal corner braces. To weatherize the planter, we painted it with some old low-VOC paint we had on hand. Finally, we filled the frame with a mixture of organic potting soil and mulch on top (we used Nature’s Helper).
Trellis: For the trellis itself, we secured livestock fencing (each opening on the fence is 2″ x 4″) to 65 ft. heavy-duty steel fence T-posts. Along the top of the livestock fencing, we strung some chicken wire. The livestock fencing and chicken wire were attached to each other, as well as to the T-posts, using cable ties (we keep loads of these on hand and find them SO handy in the garden). Their combined height is just over 5 ft., which I’ve found to be the average suggested height for pea trellises. Note that we had both types of fencing on hand, so we appropriated them for this project. If you’d prefer to exclusively use one or the other (livestock fencing or chicken wire) for the entire height of your trellis, doing so would likely work equally well. Owing to a rather robust rabbit (say THAT 10 times fast!) population in our area, we wrapped the perimeter of the planter in chicken wire, which may or may not be necessary, given your location.
Spacing: We planted our pea starts 1″ apart. They can be packed in pretty tight, so we were able to get 28 plants in the planter. We then threaded the shoots up through openings in the trellis, to aid them in the process of growing into and latching onto the fencing for their vertical climb.
For some more ideas for pea trellises, check out Willi Galloway’s fantastic blog post over at Diggin’ Food. As the West Coast editor of Organic Gardening magazine, Willi knows a thing or two about how to get things growing right.
So, what to do with all those peas? Put ‘em in a frittata, that’s what I say! A delicious dish that highlights the use of spring herbs in peas can be found in Amy Pennington’s new book Apartment Gardening (I’m giving away a copy here). Her recipe for Warm Peas & Lemon Balm is easy (peasy!) to make and exquisite nestled into a springtime frittata.
Shelling peas are one of those vegetables that are just perfect when homegrown. Frozen peas do not compare to fresh peas that are sweet and crispy, even when cooked briefly in a water bath as called for here. It is a bit of a labor-intensive process to first blanch and then shock the peas in an ice-water bath, but it’s worth it for the crisp-tender texture this extra step produces. Peas also pair beautifully with mint. You can easily substitute mint for the lemon balm in this recipe, or use equal amounts of both herbs.
- 1 pound shelling peas
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped lemon balm leaves
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is boiling, shell the peas. Set up a water bath, filling a large bowl with cold water and ice. Set aside. When the peas have been hulled, drop them into the boiling water and cook until bright green and floating, 2 t0 3 minutes. Drain and immediately drop them into the ice-water bath, halting the cooking process. Give them a stir to make sure they are cool, then drain and set aside.
2. In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the lemon balm and stir until the leaves make a popping sound, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the peas and stir to combine. When the peas are just heated through, about 1 minute, remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 eggs
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup Amy’s Warm Peas & Lemon Balm
- 1/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- a few mint leaves, julienned
1. Heat butter and olive oil over low heat in an 8″ saucepan. Swirl the mixture around once the butter is melted, coating 2″ up the sides.
2. Beat the eggs with the milk and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the egg mixture to the pan.
3. Cook 5 minutes, then sprinkle peas evenly over the top of the mixture.
4. Cook for a few more minutes, then sprinkle grated cheese evenly over top.
5. Turn on broiler in oven.
6. Transfer saucepan to oven. Cook about 5 minutes or until the eggs are golden brown on top and fully set.
7. Remove from oven. Cool 5 minutes.
8. Invert the frittata onto a plate, and then invert it back right-side up onto another plate.
9. Garnish with the mint and cut with a pizza wheel.
Peas in the garden. Peas in the pot. Peas in season are something to celebrate. What about you? Got any go-to pea recipes that tantalize the taste buds and enliven the soul? I’d love to hear about them!