Grilled English Peas

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!

Grilled English Peas Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 5 minutes

Look for young, fresh peas to grill. If the peas are too old, they will take too long to cook on the grill.

Ingredients

  • Fresh English or shell peas, in their pods
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • A few fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced (optional)

Method

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.

27 Comments

  1. Nancy Singleton Hachisu

    Elise,

    This is so timely…I’ve been wondering how to address the whole “fresh” vs “frozen” edamame issue. No need. Substitute green peas. I completely am in love with this idea (after feeling a bit disheartened by the availability in the U.S. of excellent versions of some of our most special Japanese ingredients that involve soybeans (edamame, tofu, usuage, natto….).

    Thank you, thank you.

  2. Lulu

    I’ll definitely be trying these. My boyfriend has a small back yard and we have become a couple of grilling fools. Nothing could be a bigger treat for an apartment-dweller like me! Never thought of grilling peas, but we’ll definitely give this a try! Thanks!

  3. Jane

    Would this work with snowpeas? You could eat the whole pod.

    Sure, I’m guessing you could grill snow peas, very quickly, on very high heat. I usually just eat them raw, they’re so delicate. You might have to use a grill basket, because otherwise they could easily slip beneath the grill grates. ~Elise

  4. 0janani0

    wow… i’ve never thought of eating edamame whole. we make a similar version with drumstick. we boil and cook it in a tamarind based sauce. it’s eaten exactly the same way you describe above. i wonder if i can cook drumstick this way too.

  5. angela

    I love edamame, and here in Provence they’re hard to come by, so I love the pea alternative and they’re in season now, so I’m off to the market toute suite!

  6. mountain lion

    Or why not use sugar snap peas and eat the whole thing? Sugar snaps have edible pods and they are sweet to boot.

  7. Paula

    Yum! I love fresh peas in their pods, and this sounds like a fun and novel recipe. I’m in the tiny minority of the U.S. population that doesn’t own a grill. Do you think this would work for roasting, like with other roasted vegetables?

    You could try it. I think a big part of the flavor here comes from the smoke from the grill though. ~Elise

  8. Kathi

    This was a great idea. I was roasting veggies on the grill anyway and wondering what to do with the peas I had in the fridge. I threw them in with the rest. Theye were a great addition to the peppers and aparagus.

  9. Yana

    I’m part of the US population that doesn’t own a grill and roasted these in the oven instead. I’m a huge fan of your roasted brussels sprouts recipe (as well as some of your other roasted veggie recipes), so I thought I’d give this a go in a similar fashion. The result didn’t quite work for me – I actually like raw veggies, so they have to come out significantly better cooked for me to appreciate cooking them, and, in this case, I was kind of bummed by not being able to eat the crunchy roasted shell…however, my husband loved them and he’s super picky about his veggies (especially peas) and has little interest in edamame.

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