Are you familiar with edamame, the salty soybeans often served at Japanese restaurants? I became addicted to them when I lived in Japan years ago; they’re the Japanese version of bar nuts, almost always served at bars there, with beer. You eat them by putting the pod in your mouth, closing your teeth, and pulling out the pod which releases the salty beans to eat. (Trader Joe’s carries them, by the way.) This recipe is sort of like an English pea version of edamame, that you grill. Okay, yeah it’s a stretch, but you eat them like edamame. You take fresh English peas, toss them with olive oil and salt, and then grill them until they are lightly charred on the outside and steamy soft on the inside. Then when you eat them, you scrape up some of that smokey, charred, salty flavor, while the peas pop into your mouth. If you want to add to this symphony of flavors, you can sprinkle some balsamic and chopped mint on the peas before eating.
The trick is to make sure you are starting out with fresh, relatively young peas, the kind that would cook up in a couple of minutes if you boiled them. The first time I made these I used what turned out to be tough old peas. Even when I tried boiling them for 20 minutes they were still tough. Grilling for a few minutes obviously didn’t work any better than boiling them. The next time I tried this I used greener, fresher, apparently younger peas. They grilled up perfectly. I grilled a half pound of peas and ate them all happily, by myself. Could easily have eaten another half pound. Many thanks to my friend Kerissa for the idea, who got it from our friend Peg, who got the idea from her friend Elaine. Thank you all!
Look for young, fresh peas to grill. If the peas are too old, they will take too long to cook on the grill.
- Fresh English or shell peas, in their pods
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Balsamic vinegar (optional)
- A few fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced (optional)
1 Prepare your grill for high, direct heat.
2 Place a handful of peas into a bowl and drizzle olive oil over them. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt. Toss to coat with oil and salt.
3 Place peas on hot grill, arranged in a way so that they don't fall through the grill grates. Grill a few minutes on each side, so that the peas are well charred, and sufficiently cooked so that the peas are tender inside.
4 Remove to a bowl and drizzle with a little balsamic and toss with a little mint if you want.
Eat like edamame. Plop the pod in your mouth and scrape against the salty, charred surface of the pod to extract the peas. Discard the empty pods.