Product of the month - peas

Now is the time to buy the first of the season English peas, in the pod. The earlier in the season you get them, the more delicious, and expensive, they are, but they are worth it

They are very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Protein, Vitamin A, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin and Manganese.

Peapods are botanically a fruit, since they contain seeds developed from the ovary of a pea flower. However, they are considered to be a vegetable in cooking.

They are delicious raw. They're a great treat for children instead of sweets, and much more fun!

They make a lovely salad. Try a simple garden pea salad, made with raw or cooked peas and a dressing of your choice - olive oil-based or creamy. Add boiled eggs, spring onions and, if you like, cheese. Reccommended is a fresh mix of peas, feta and mint with good olive oil, generously seasoned with salt and pepper, wiht just a splash of lemon or white wine vinegar.

Raw peas make a great hummus-style dip. Blend them with garlic, oilive oil, lemon, salt and pepper, to create a great dip or sauce.

Boiled or steamed they're a great accompaniment to any meal, but there's no reason they shouldn't be the star of the show.

Try this recipe for pea soup, from the Yes Peas website. You won't regret it:

30g butter

1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 small leek, white only part, washed and chopped

1 stick celery, finely chopped

1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock

150ml double cream

Sea salt and black pepper

750g peas

1 tsp thyme leaves, finely chopped

Melt the butter in a large heavy based saucepan; add the onion, leek and celery and cook gently until the onion is soft, season with sea salt and black pepper. Stir in the stock and cream. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for approximately 5 - 8 minutes until the vegetables are cooked. Add the peas and thyme and bring to the boil and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the peas are just tender. Do not overcook the peas. Remove from the heat and blend the soup until smooth, season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.