Any time we send out fresh English peas (in this recipe or this one), we write this instruction: shell the peas. That means removing the inner sweet peas from the outer green pea pods.
If you follow this instruction, you’ll be left with a big pile of empty pea pods after you’ve turned the treasured sweet peas into part of a pasta or spring veggie sauté.
But just because they’re empty doesn’t mean they’re worthless. Get that idea out of your head. Just like the peas inside, the pea pods contain spring’s flavors (and spring’s nutrients, too). With just a few extra steps, you can turn those pea pods into a gorgeous green puree to use in sauces and pasta dishes—or even as part of a cocktail!
How to cook pea pods
First step: reserve those shells instead of throwing them away.
Next, blanch them by adding them to a pot of boiling water. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute. You’ll notice that the pods turn a beautiful bright green. Then, transfer them to a blender, but don’t discard the water just yet.
In the blender, puree the blanched pea pods with a little bit of the blanching water.
Once smooth, scoop the puree right into an ice bath. We like to use a bowl that’s set over another bowl full of ice water. Chilling the puree immediately preserves those bright green colors. Don’t skip this step! Without the ice bath, the puree will turn army green or brown.
That’s it! Now you have a beautiful emerald green pea shell puree.
Here are a few suggestions for using your I-didn’t-waste-a-drop pea puree:
• Fold into pasta dishes
• Combine with ricotta cheese and spread onto bread as a crostini
• Use as a sauce
• Use as a garnish
• Special cocktails
• Mix into smoothies or juices