Oh, sweet pea: An homage to the vegetable and legume

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Oh, sweet pea: An homage to the vegetable and legume

There’s not much cuter than a row of tiny peas in their pods and these springy spheres taste as sweet as they look. Plus, as both a vegetable and a legume, peas contain a host of vitamins and minerals and are high in protein and fiber, yet more easily digested than their bean-ier cousins. Here are a half dozen restaurant dishes that will make you say “yes, peas!”

Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar (top) has updated the mint jelly with lamb combination by serving its grilled lamb chops with minted smashed peas and a lavender-scented jus.

Of course there are peas on the menu at Petit Pois (middle), but instead of the little guys being on their own, they’ve joined forces to become one sweet soup. Served chilled, it’s topped with a swirl of crème fraiche, shaved radish, and a chiffonade of mint.

The spring salad at Feast! (bottom) combines sugar snap peas with radishes, asparagus, sliced eggs, spring herbs, French feta, and mixed greens. Dressed in the house Greek goddess dressing, it’s a seasonal salad worthy of worship.

The Silver Thatch Inn fills its appetizer of pillowy housemade ravioli with fresh peas and tangy chevre before gently coating it in a spring onion cream sauce.

At Himalayan Fusion, peas play a starring role in the matar paneer—sweet peas and cubed Indian cheese simmered long and low in a creamy, spiced tomato-based sauce that’s perfect over rice and for swiping up with naan.

At tavola, a spring pea risotto with pea shoots shares a plate with a half-chicken from Timbercreek Organics that’s roasted until crispy.

Pass the pods and shoots

We eat both the insides and outsides of the flat snow pea pod and the cylindrical sugar snap pea before the pod reaches maturity, so in French, they’re known as mange-tout, meaning “eat all.”

Pea shoots, the young leaves of the traditional garden pea plant, are tender, string-free, and bursting with pea flavor. Grown locally by Planet Earth Diversified, find them at the City Market or online at shop.planetearthdiversified.com and pile them atop a sandwich or mix them into salads, pastas, and risottos.

Peas and thank you

If you have a tight-lipped toddler when it comes to all foods green, try a dose of reverse psychology. In Little Pea, a book written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jen Corace, a wee pea puts up a fight about eating his five pieces of candy (because that’s what you have to eat for dinner every night when you’re a pea) until he’s promised his favorite for dessert—spinach!

Peas be with you

Peas almost always get a mention during a tour of Monticello, because there’s a pile of them encased in glass in the historical home. Among the hundreds of vegetables in Jefferson’s garden, the English pea was his favorite. He grew 15 types, staggering their planting in order to stay in peas from mid-May through mid-July. He made happy entries in his Garden Book, noting when “peas come to table,” and participated in an annual neighborhood contest in which the farmer who brought the first peas of spring to the table hosted a dinner for the others. Neighbor George Divers consistently won, and even in 1816 when Jefferson did, in fact, grow the first pea, he didn’t let on for the sake of his friend’s pride.

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