So yeah. Frozen peas. The genesis of so many amazing things in the kitchen. Where do I start?
Let’s start with Nigella Lawson, who graciously – and absolutely deservedly – has the crown for ‘Queen of the Frozen Pea‘ but I’d like to think there’s room in the castle for a Prince.
You’ll never not not find peas in my freezer. It’s something I buy on autopilot even if I’m not 100% sure how many I have in the freezer. I will always have a need for them. There’s really no difference between fresh and frozen when it comes to peas. Nutritionally speaking, the vitamins and proteins that are in peas and conserved when frozen, so you genuinely do not lose any of the benefits.
They tend to be frozen at peak ripeness, which means that all that goodness is locked in, as well as the guaranteed texture and sweetness, whereas fresh peas start to lose their ‘goodness’ the moment they are picked so the longer it takes to get to your table, the starchier they become.
So to be honest, getting them frozen is… dare I say it… better.
I like to buy petite pois, difference being is that they are smaller and sweeter than regular peas, which are slightly bigger and have tougher skin. Buying petite pois means I can go wherever I want with them, whether that be to puree them, smash them, add them to pasta or just straight up boil them and enjoy with salt and butter – they will always be soft and sweet.
If you’ve got a bag of frozen peas in your freezer, you’ve got yourself a meal. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought ‘Shit, I haven’t done a proper food shop and I’ve got nothing in the fridge’ and then remembered I had peas in the freezer.
Allow me to paint a few pictures for you.
Pea & Blue Cheese Soup
3 cups of frozen peas in some boiling water. Throw in 2 crushed garlic cloves and 2 spring onions whole. Put a lid on the pan and simmer for 10 minutes. Throw some pieces of blue cheese in a blender with some salt and pepper. Remove a cup of the pea water and throw into the blender. Drain the peas and toss them into the blender. Blitz to a soupy pulp and serve with some chopped chives.
Pea, Mint & Feta Bruschetta
Put 2 cups of frozen peas in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to sit for 4/5 minutes. Drain and throw into a food processor. Add some salt, pepper, a little olive oil and some fresh mint. Blitz everything to a chunky, spreadable puree. Toast your chosen bread and spread the puree over the bread, crumble over some feta and some pistachios, if you’re feeling dead fancy.
Crushed Pea, Preserved Lemon & Pistachio Pasta
Yeah, just click here.
Shredded Chicken & Pea Broth with Dumplings
Smooth Pea Puree
Perfect on the side of fish and chips but I also like to make this to spread into a fish finger sandwich. Just click here.
And then there is this recipe.
As a food writer, I’ve made it my mission to never apologise for a recipe’s ease or simplicity. Food writers are often too quick to boast their most culinary complex offering in order to impress and inspire. I promise you no such complexity. If a recipe is simple and delicious, then I see no reason to not feature it. And this recipe has landed on my table more times than I can count.
And these here frozen peas are, wait for it… roasted. I come from the school of frozen peas always being plunged into boiling water, but I was inspired by Nigella Lawson’s Chicken & Pea Traybake from her At My Table to roast peas. She promised me that the peas, albeit go duller in colour, have a more intensified sweetness and softness in a traybake and she was absolutely not lying.
I took a complete turn with my traybake, opting for different flavourings and the dense, flakiness of white fish and the nutty richness of brown butter to round out the meal. It also comes together a lot quicker because the peas can roast peacefully as you potter and then all you have to do is pop the fish in for the last leg of the roasting time. In that time, you can gently prepare your brown butter sauce and then you’re ready to go. After eating this, I realised that I would almost have to force myself to boil frozen peas moving forward.
If you want to replace the fish with chicken, you could absolutely follow Nigella’s recipe but I will say that the brown butter is probably a misstep on this one because you will get a wonderful richness from the chicken. The brown butter perfectly lifts a fresh, white fish to another level but I don’t personally think that the chicken will need the brown butter.
This recipe is also fantastic with sausages but I like a scorch the whole way around on my sausages, which is just not achievable from the oven when they’re sat on top of peas, so my preference then is to fry the sausages while the peas bake but I do like to add a teaspoon of mustard to the pan of peas to give a tangy, nose-clearing sharpness to the sausages.
There’s nothing stopping you from flinging some oven chips in for the length of the peas cooking time if you want an upmarket fish and chip shop affair, but I also like these Bashed Potatoes which I roast in advance and then fry last minute.
400g frozen peas
1 large shallot or 1 onion
1 clove garlic
120ml white wine
2 pieces cod
40g unsalted butter
Parsley – chopped, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Tip the frozen peas into a medium sized roasting tray, or a large skillet.
- Peel and finely slice the shallot (or onion) and drop them into the peas.
- Grate in the garlic clove, scatter in a little salt, pour in the wine and using a spoon, stir the peas in the pan gently so that the peas are fairly coated by the garlic.
- Pop the tray or skillet into the oven and roast for 45 minutes.
- After the time is up, remove the peas from the oven and in this time you’ll see that the peas, while they have lost their vibrant colour, are beginning to soften.
- Place the cod pieces on top of the peas, salt them gently and grate over the zest of the lemon. Put the peas and fish back on the oven for a further 15 minutes.
- While the fish cooks, put the butter in a small saucepan on a medium heat. Stir gently as the butter begins to froth a little. Using a spoon, swirl the froth in the pan around while it bubbles, keeping an eye on it while it goes from a vibrant yellow to a deep gold with little freckles of brown at the bottom. Take the butter of the heat and pour into a little bowl or cup so that it can stop cooking.
- Once the fish has had its time, remove from the oven and spoon over the brown butter.
- Finely chop the parsley, sprinkle over the pan, and serve with a squirt of fresh lemon juice.