By Nancy Vallarella

Chef Chelsea Gomez of Level Up Kitchen (Pictured above)

June and July are prime times for Long Island’s pea harvest. There are three main types of peas you might come across: snap peas, snow peas, and shelling peas (also known as English peas or garden peas). The primary difference? Shelling peas need to be shelled since their pods are fibrous and inedible. If you’re used to the canned variety, fresh shelled peas will be a delightful surprise—nothing like the gray-green mush with a tinny taste that you might recall.

Growing Conditions: Peas are quite particular about their environment. They thrive in days with temperatures in the 60s and 70s and nights in the 40s and 50s. This spring’s combination of rainfall and warmer temperatures has been a challenge, as these conditions are conducive to powdery mildew, a fungus that can kill pea plants. Farmer David Lama of Good Stuff Gardens in Jamesport, who also sells at the Three Village Farmer’s Market, noted that his pea harvest might be limited this year. We’ll have to see what June brings.

But don’t worry! If fresh peas are hard to come by, frozen peas are an excellent substitute. They are picked and flash-frozen at their peak, retaining their sweet flavor and nutritional value. Unlike fresh peas, which need cooking to remove their starchiness and soften their skins, frozen peas are ready to go after a brief defrost or a quick heat-up.

Pea Facts:

• Eating Etiquette: The proper way to eat peas is by pressing down on them with the back of your fork. It might feel a bit like making pea hummus, but it’s more sophisticated than chasing them around your plate.
• Nutritional Boost: A 100-calorie serving (3/4 cup) of peas packs more protein than a whole egg.
• Cooking Tip: The less water you use when cooking peas, the more vitamin C they retain.
When it comes to cooking peas, I reached out to a professional for a top-notch summertime recipe.
Chef Chelsea Gomez of Level Up Kitchen in St. James shared her fresh, delicious, and simple pea salad recipe, perfect for outdoor gatherings. This dish can easily be scaled up to feed a crowd.

English Pea Salad –
(by Chef Chelsea Gomez of Level Up Kitchen)
Makes (4) ½ cup servings

• 2 cups fresh or frozen peas
• 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
• 1 Tbs. minced red onion
• 1 tsp. lemon zest
• 1 tsp. fresh mint chiffonade
• Flaked salt (like Maldon) to taste
• Lemon wedges for serving


  1. If using fresh peas: Blanch them in boiling salted water for about 1 minute until tender and sweet. Immediately submerge them in ice water to cool. Drain.
    If using frozen peas: Defrost them overnight in the fridge or leave them at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
  2. Combine the peas with the extra virgin olive oil, minced red onion, and lemon zest. This step can be done the day before—just cover and chill in the fridge overnight.
  3. When ready to serve, chiffonade the fresh mint and add to the peas.
  4. Season with flaked salt.
  5. Serve with lemon wedges on the side to prevent the acid in the lemon from cooking the peas further and turning them yellow.

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