I think everyone can agree that Spring is the most refreshing season. As someone that spent four years in the Northeast during college, I can remember dreary Februarys in Philadelphia, walking around in my slush drenched Uggs, just cursing winter and wondering when this hell would be over with. Then daylight savings time would come and everything would change. I would start seeing swarms of co-eds outside playing sports, and I remember always thinking to myself, “Have this many good-looking people always lived this close to me?” The trees would start blooming, you’d see more people working out outside than in the gym and it was warm enough to start eating salads again. (Who craves a cold salad in winter?! Not I…)
Now being in Los Angeles, there isn’t quite the drastic, poetic turn in seasons. However, a crisp day in Spring has the same feeling no matter where you are. Another great thing that spring brings with her is all of the amazing, brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Our top choice for one of the most versatile and healthy items that can be found right now at the Farmers’ Market are English Peas. This might be a shock to some of you who believe that peas are starchy and sugary, but those aren’t always bad things. For example, the sugar in peas actually have a very low glycemic index. In addition, the protein and fiber levels help to regulate and slow digestion. This slows the process of starches being broken down into sugars, which in turn keeps your blood sugar at a steadier level. Peas have been suggested to those suffering from Type 2 Diabetes in order to regulate blood sugar levels. For those vegetarian readers out there, peas mixed with whole grains are considered a complete protein, which has the same effect (more or less) to animal proteins.
In addition to aiding in the digestion of carbohydrates, English peas contain a phytonutrient called coumestrol, which studies have linked to some very impressive health benefits. Coumestrol has been the subject of many medical studies in gastric cancer, and it has been found that it is one of the leading nutrients in lowering your risk for gastric cancer. We love this effect in particular at Taste of Pace, as our Executive Chef and Owner, Pace Webb, is a colon cancer survivor. Pace just went for a check up recently and results came out 100% negative. Thanks, English peas!!! Eating legumes and other fresh produce is such a powerful step in prevention of these diseases. Plus, these phytonutrients provide antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits.
As if those weren’t enough reasons to start buying English Peas in bulk, another benefit of peas is that they are an extremely sustainable crop. When grown, they release a type of hydrogen into the soil that enriches future crops. English peas also have a very shallow root, which prevents soil erosion.
The best part about English Peas is that you can do so much with them, and they are so delicious and refreshing. Taste of Pace loves making Chilled English Pea Soup with Coriander Creme Fraiche and putting them in soup shooters for passed hors d’oeuvres. If Spring had a flavor, it would be this soup – the combination of the subtle sweetness with strong notes of greenery coming through is perfection on a hot, sunny day. We recently did a wedding show called A Soolip Wedding in Santa Monica, CA where we featured this seasonal beauty, and they were a huge hit!
Another simple but delicious recipe is Spring Legumes Goat Cheese in Lettuce Leaf and Pine Nuts. This salad is elegant, beautiful and enriching for the body head to toe.
Spring Legumes and Goat Cheese in Lettuce Leaf with Pine Nuts
- mixed spring legumes (favas, snap peas, english peas, green beans)
- goat cheese, crumbled
- leaf lettuce, separated
- pine nuts, toasted
- shallot, finely minced
- white wine vinegar
- extra virgin olive oil
- finishing herbs (mint, basil, tarragon, chervil, parsley, etc.)
Blanch and shock legumes. Set aside. Make dressing by combining shallots and white wine vinegar and soak for 10 minutes. Add olive oil. Tear or roughly chop finishing herbs and toss with legumes. Nestle legume mixture into the lettuce leaf and garnish with goat cheese and pine nuts.