Nothing says spring like a pile of peas, but there are so many different varieties of this vibrant veggie. Here’s what you need to know to be a produce pro.

By Nina Elder
April 07, 2021
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types of peas illustration
Illustration by Alessandra Olanow
| Credit: Illustration by Alessandra Olanow

English Peas

english peas illustration
Credit: Illustration by Alessandra Olanow

Sometimes called sweet peas or shelling peas, this is the iconic pod with the round peas inside. They're sold fresh, frozen, and canned, and the tough, fibrous pods aren't edible.

Pea Sprouts

pea shoots illustration
Credit: Illustration by Alessandra Olanow

These little guys are sprouted pea seeds with very tender stems and just a couple of leaves. Toss them in salads or use as a sandwich topper.

Snow Peas

snow peas illustration
Credit: Illustration by Alessandra Olanow

A classic addition to stir-fries, snow peas have flat, tender pods with tiny peas inside. Depending on the size, you may need to remove the tough string that runs along one side of the pod, but the rest you can gobble up.

Sugar Snap Peas

sugar snap peas illustration
Credit: Illustration by Alessandra Olanow

This variety is a cross between a shelling pea and a snow pea, which explains why they have tender, edible pods with sizeable peas inside. They're great eaten raw in salads or on veggie platters. But as with snow peas, you may want to remove the string before eating.

Pea Tendrils

pea tendrils illustration
Credit: Illustration by Alessandra Olanow

The leaves and curly tendrils of pea plants are mild and sweet, and they're tasty sautéed or stir-fried with garlic. Look for them at the farmers' market.

This article originally appeared in our Winter/Spring 2021 issue. Get the magazine here.