Whether you’re looking to add something fresh and crisp to your salads, are preparing some veg for a side dish or even looking at putting together some soup, peas and beans are some of the most versatile vegetables out there. Not only that, but they are readily available from local producers and work with just about everything! Plus, they’re cheap to buy and easy to store – not a lot can go wrong with using peas and beans in recipes, so here is everything you need to know about these amazing vegetables.
Know your veg:
There are over 100 known varieties of green bean. Cooked green beans have a fresh, mild flavour and taste just as good cold as they do warm! Add them to a salad or serve them on the side. We recommend tossing them in garlicky butter and sprinkling some toasted nuts over the side to really boost their flavour.
These plumper beans have a creamy flavour. They can be made sweeter by double podding, or taking the beans out of their skins. Whether you buy them fresh, tinned or frozen, the flavour remains the same.
Usually found with Asian style meals, these are young soya beans and have a nutty flavour. They’re very rich in protein and must be cooked before eating, many of the options that are available in shops have been pre cooked, but do check before you dig in!
These are some of the most popular beans on offer and are the ones you’ll see most often. They’re loved for their crunch and both the pods and the beans are edible, but they have to be cooked before eating. They work well in a stir fry.
From the French for “eat everything” you can eat every part of this pea variety. The small, young peas come in flat pods and can be eaten raw or cooked. Try adding them to a home made coleslaw for something a bit different or just enjoy alongside your lunch or as a snack.
These are larger, sweeter mangetouts and again can be eaten whole, raw or steamed. They’re great as a cruidte and dipped into houmous or something similar.
Another French one – this time meaning Little Peas, they are essentially garden peas that have been picked early. They have a sweet, delicate taste and are very versatile. They work well with fried fish, among other dish.
They take next to no time to cook and have a sweet flavour making them a firm favourite among families. They work in near enough every dish imaginable and are available tinned, frozen and fresh – just be aware that fresh garden peas have a short shelf life.
How to cook
When it comes to beans and peas, they are fairly straight forward, the only thing you need to be aware of is to not overcook them. Peas and beans generally only require boiling or steaming for a few moments when being eaten warm. If you’re using them in cold salads, they should only be plunged into a bowl of iced water immediately after draining.
Any frozen beans and peas should be cooked before eating.
In the majority of cases, lightly steam and boil them before adding your flavours. Beans and peas are so popular because they work with a wide variety of flavour combinations, give some of the below suggestions a go!
For an Asian flavour –
Edamame works best with Asian flavours, but you can use anything you have to hand. Just toss them with grated ginger, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, chilli, rice vinegar and a little sugar to give it a real Asian taste.
For a Greek flavour –
Once cooked, toss your chosen beans and peas in a little olive oil then top with crumbled feta.
For a French flavour –
Runner beans and green beans work well with traditional French flavours. You can serve them in a simple vinaigrette made from olive oil, lemon juice and mustard.
How to store
Fresh beans and peas generally have a short shelf life, so it is important to use them as soon as possible. If you do need to store them before eating, keep them in a vegetable draw of the fridge. Some beans and peas can be frozen from fresh, check with the farm shop or the packaging when buying.
If you choose to buy frozen, you can guarantee that most peas and beans are frozen within a few hours of picking and retain their flavour because of this. So, whatever you choose to go for, you can be sure of the flavour.
Where to buy
You can find a wide range of peas and beans from all over Dorset at the region’s farm shops and other local stores.
If you’re in West Moors, drop into Gulliver’s Farm Shop where you can find home grown vegetables, alternatively, if you’re in Bridport, Washingpool Farm is another option where you’ll find a well stocked farm shop full of veg grown on site.
In Stuminster Marshall, near Wimborne, is Vines Close Farm Shop who have an extensive range of local and region produce, most of which is grown on the onsite farm.
Jurassic Coast Farm shop are in Dorchester and have a great online shop where you can find a host of local veg. Or if you want to shop in person, Marcia’s Market Kitchen and Farm Shop sources the best local produce from local farms and producers across the county.
Fluffetts’ farm shop can be found in Wimborne and offer a whole host of local produce including Dorset grown peas and beans.
Alternatively, Dorset Farm Foods supports small, local producers and sellers at their base in Shaftesbury or Brace of Butchers in Poundbury. They have many in house prepared products and locally grown vegetables.