Used as an important food source since ancient times, green peas have become known as English peas because of the many varieties developed in England.
English peas are easily recognized by their large grass-green, pod which encloses the round peas inside. While the pods themselves are not edible, the sweet, delicious peas may be eaten fresh, cooked or dried.
English peas are second only to lima beans as a source of vegetable protein. A three-fourths cup serving contains about 100 calories and more protein than a tablespoon of peanut butter or a whole egg, and less than one-half gram of fat.
Fresh English peas are sweet and tender enough to be eaten raw but may also be prepared cooked. Blanch fresh peas briefly, then drain and process with cilantro, garlic and parmesan into a spread for sandwiches or dip. Blanch and drain fresh peas the mash with a fork, stir in chopped mint and grated pecorino then spread on crostini. Toss fresh peas with baby lettuce, vinagrette, radishes, chopped walnuts and goat cheese for a spring salad. Cook diced onion, potato and peas in vegetable stock, then puree into soup and serve topped with fresh mint. To store, wrap unwashed pea pods in a perforated plastic bag and refrigerate. For optimum quality and taste, use English peas within two to three days of purchase. Shelled English peas may be frozen, but they will lose their crisp texture.