When I was growing up, my mom always had a bag of frozen mixed vegetables in the freezer. Mostly she used it for icing boo-boos and hiding the box of Popsicles behind it, although occasionally she served a long-freezer-burned (and then microwave-steamed) serving of that bright-colored corn, carrot, and green bean medley.
My own children’s childhood freezer is better stocked with frozen chicken nuggets, fruits for smoothies, and homemade (and store-bought) Popsicles that I don’t hide, but there is one bag of frozen vegetables that I rely on much the same as my own mother did and it is not the mixed vegetables of my own youth. This is the bag of frozen vegetables that is the hero of family dinners — and occasionally saves us from those childhood boo-boos too.
Frozen Peas Are the Unsung Hero of the Family Freezer
Small in size, sweet, and green, frozen peas are always in my freezer. I started stocking them when my oldest daughter started solids — I served them steamed and puréed when she was 6 months old, and then partially thawed or frozen in Popsicle molds as she started getting big, painful molars as a one-year-old.
Six years (and another kid) later, peas remain in my freezer for three reasons: Peas are quick to thaw and cook, they can be served all on their own, and they are one green vegetable universally loved by kids and grown-ups alike.
Peas can be a quick snack (before dinner).
When my kids were very young we’d quickly thaw frozen peas to keep toddlers busy at the table while dinner was being served. These days my now preschool- and elementary-aged kids will still snack on frozen peas while they “help cook.”
Getting them to eat a green vegetable without any prep feels like a win, but frozen peas can also be turned into a dip for other raw veggies or a spread for sandwiches or appetizer toasts.
Peas make an easy side dish.
Peas and herbs hit our dinner table at least once a week when dinner plans get shortened and I don’t have time to roast carrots or steam broccoli for dinner. Peas hardly need more than butter and salt to make them a perfect side for roasted chicken, steak, or even boxed mac and cheese.
A fast and fancy pea side dish: Kerala Spiced Peas
Peas upgrade dinner basics.
Here’s where peas really shine at dinnertime: When you can toss a cup into a pot of mac and cheese or a pot of soup before serving and you know that your kids aren’t going to be concerned with the “green things in there” because peas are small, tender, and sweet — and beloved by all!
What’s your favorite way to use frozen peas?