At Long Last, Fresh Sweet Peas Are Here (for a Minute)


Peas! At long last! Peas! This is the week, before they swell in the sunshine and get big and mealy, or sit on a shelf in the supermarket getting starchier by the minute. The market is flush with peas. Happiness abounds.

“When I was a kid, we used to pick the pods and eat the peas like sweets,” says Joel Jester of Kilo (857 Ninth Avenue; 212-707-8770), a neighborhood favorite wine bar/small plates specialist in Hell’s Kitchen.

“My parent moved to the countryside in Washington to build a house and start a farm, and though I was pretty young — we moved again when I was four or five — that memory is in there somewhere. I love peas!”

Look for small pods with a bright sheen. Ideally, pop a pod down the seam and taste a pea or two. They should be sweet and juicy. If they’re starchy, give it up. Use frozen peas instead. But, if they’re singing to you, rejoice! Eat them as you walk through the market, saving the pods to make stock with later.

  • Add pea pods to a chicken stock that you’re using for risotto. Once the rice is soft, tip in a couple of handfuls of fresh peas, then finish with a generous knob of butter, a grating of lemon zest and parmesan cheese, and, maybe, a tablespoon of fresh ricotta.
  • Blanch a couple of handfuls of peas quickly, refresh in ice water, then add to a butter lettuce salad with hazelnuts and gorgonzola, dressed with a light sherry vinaigrette.
  • Make an omelet with peas, chopped fresh tarragon, and a mild, soft chèvre.
  • Sauté peas with bacon and serve on thick slices of toasted bread, with a generous grind of pepper and a grating of parmesan. Or make bruschetta with ricotta, blanched peas, mint and lemon juice.
  • Lightly brown some butter, add peas, and brown all the way. Serve these ambrosial beads as a sauce for fresh egg pasta.

At Kilo, peas are served blanched and tossed with fava beans, artichokes, feta, basil, and crunchy croutons. “We get them from a farm on the North Fork right now,” says Jester, “when they’re so fresh and perfect you want to keep things simple. Enjoy them while you can.”

Most Popular