The other evening at twilight, I spent a half hour with a friend sitting on the terrace shelling the huge bag of fresh peas Essex Farm CSA delivered that afternoon. We each had a bowl to drop the peas into, occasionally pouring our treasure into a big bowl; we tossed the discarded pods into another bowl set on the floor. As the city cooled down and the evening breeze came up, our conversation meandered as we worked. We could have been sitting on a porch in the country. I wondered if THIS was what peas and shell beans were really made to do: bring friends and family together over a calming task that would yield something truly special.
The truly special “gold” our pleasant work yielded were big bowls of fresh peas, simply steamed, and lavishly buttered. I had enough left over to make them the next day for lunch.
Although peas are often cooked with mint, and milk, I hungered for the flavor of new peas. Having all I could eat of buttered peas felt like an extraordinary extravagance, made possible by the pleasant half hour (or less, the time flew) of shucking). Peas are just start the shelling season.
Fava beans will soon follow, then limas, soybeans and shell beans.
I have been known to put my dinner guests to work; the collective effort (with cocktails) yields an abundance of conversation and….fresh peas or beans. Check out the method for preparing favas here…
…along with a recipe you can apply to almost all beans (and peas) fresh out of the shell: