Peas are, quite simply, the quintessential ingredient of spring. In her recipe for Risi e Bisi (literally, rice and peas), Marcella Hazan notes that “no alternative to fresh peas is suggested in the ingredients list, because the essential quality of this dish resides in theflavor that only good, fresh peas possess.” In fact, frozen peas are almost always a worthy substitute. (If you’re unable to eat peas within five days of their having been shucked, better to freeze them.)
But there is nothing like the first young peas of the season. In our restaurants, we seize them with a voracity otherwise reserved only for late-August tomatoes. Toss fresh peas with red onions, a little mint, a little chile flakes, and extra virgin olive oil to highlight the magnificence of their sweetness.
When cooking peas, do not neglect the shoot and tendrils. They’re versatile, colorful, and similarly delicious.