This protein-rich green veggie shouldn't be overlooked.

By By the editors of Shape.com
July 13, 2017
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Photo: Ted Cavanaugh

You can count on peas for pops of sweetness and impressive health hits. These small but mighty beauties pack a hefty dose of protein (a cup has almost 9 grams) along with zinc, calcium, and vitamin A, says Stephanie Middleberg, R.D.N., the founder of Middleberg Nutrition. That means not just fresh flavor but fuel for post-exercise muscle recovery. (That's why pea protein is a thing.) Score! Here: why top chefs have peas on the brain.

1. Sauté Peas for a Snack

If you're a fan of edamame, this alternative version from Christopher Lee, culinary director at Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant, will hit the spot. Eat these sautéd English peas right out of the pod for a quick pop of protein.

Ingredients:

2 pounds English peas

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons minced fresh mint

Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl, toss English peas, still in the pods, with olive oil and salt.
  2. Preheat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat and add the peas in a single layer.
  3. Flip them every few minutes until the pods are charred and the peas are crisp and tender, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  4. Transfer peas to a serving bowl and toss with mint.

2. Make a Chilled Summer Soup

ICYMI, soup isn't off-limits in the summer; this chilled soup from Kristen Essig and Michael Stoltzfus, co-owners of Coquette in New Orleans, makes for a spicy summer dish that won't have you overheating.

Ingredients:

1 cup English peas

1 pound of peeled, chopped English cucumbers

3 tablespoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed

2 green onions, roughly chopped

1/2 jalapeño, seeded and chopped

1/4 cup loosely packed tarragon

1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 lemon

Olive oil

Directions:

  1. Boil English peas for 30 seconds; place in an ice bath and drain. Toss cucumbers with 1 tablespoon kosher salt and let sit for 20 minutes.
  2. Rinse well and drain for 5 minutes.
  3. In a blender, place cucumbers, peas, yogurt, buttermilk, garlic, green onions, jalapeño, tarragon, rice wine vinegar, remaining kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and lemon. Puree, starting on low speed and increasing to medium-high, for 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Chill for at least 3 hours. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.

3. Whip Up a Pea-Co de Gallo

This pea-filled twist on pico de gallo from Richard Blais, winner of Top Chef All-Stars and author of So Good, is just as versatile as the original. Serve as a dip, or pop on top of grilled chicken or fish.

Ingredients

2 cups of shelled fresh peas

1 cup diced green tomatoes

1/2 minced jalapeño

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon ground cumin

3 tablespoons sliced scallions

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

splash of white vinegar

dash of salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Combine fresh peas, green tomatoes, jalapeño, cilantro, cumin, and scallionsStir in olive oil, a splash of white vinegar, and a dash of salt and pepper
  2. Marinate in the fridge for an hour.
  3. Serve with tortilla chips or veggies for dipping, or place on top of grilled chicken or fish.

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