Shell peas, peel fava beans, trim asparagus…. The works!
Green, non-leafy vegetables like asparagus and broccoli all work the same. You can substitute one for another, generally speaking, in any preparation in which they appear. They all cook the same way, in any case.
However you cook them, you’ll first want to prepare each vegetable, whether that involves peeling or slicing. These are extremely simple tasks, although each vegetable has its own peculiarities. Hence, the purpose of this article.
Wash the vegetables, before you begin, which removes certain bacteria that remain after cooking and that hastens spoilage. Washing also removes residual agricultural chemicals. Simply put them into a colander then run them under cold tap water.
Cutting them into even pieces, as I demonstrate below, ensures that each vegetable cooks quickly and evenly, through and through.
Trim these of their stem-ends, then slice them into thirds.
English or Shelling Peas:
Shuck these (remove them from their hulls): Pull the stem of each one back, then right down along the side.
Sugar Snap or Snow Peas:
Cook these as-is.
Shuck these by running your fingers down along the seam of each one.
(You can also peel the beans themselves, once you’ve cooked them, by popping each one in between your fingers. I think they taste best after they’ve been peeled a second time.)
The spears have characteristically tough and woody ends. Slender ones (not wider than a carpenter’s pencil) need only be snapped at the point of least-resistance.
The bases of these large stalks are exceedingly fibrous, with a distinctly bitter taste.
To determine precisely where to slice each stalk, observe how your knife feels: If you detect any resistance, then move up towards the head of the vegetable by quarter-inch (0.5cm) increments until the slicing feels perfectly smooth.
White asparagus should also be peeled. Starting from the cut-end, glide the peeler right up to the base of the tip.
Slice these into bite-sized pieces.
Spring Onions and Garlic Ramps:
Trim these of their dark green ends, which are relatively tasteless.
Trim the roots, as well, being careful not to sever the base that holds the leaves together.
Finally, peel off the outer leaf, which is usually tough and blemished.
Trim these of their root ends, then rub off any loose or tarnished outer leaves. Finally, halve each one. (Quarter those that are very large.)