This (see picture) is exactly the beautiful sight I came home to the other day; an offering of freshly-picked mangetout wrapped in a rhubarb leaf sitting there in the sun on the kitchen worktop. Truly a sign that midsummer has arrived! Green and juicy from a recent wet day, their crunchy sweetness invites you to just take a bite then and there- and that's the beauty of mangetout: they are a great raw snack, either with a dip or alone. Of course, they are awesome in a stir fry, shine in salads and are superb sweated with home grown tomatoes as well.
Mangetout means "eat all" in French, and indeed you can; from the crisp green tender pods to the sweet little peas inside. Their other name is snow peas- but I'm not sure why.
Before we go any further, let's be clear that the mangetout out I'm taking about are the flat pods, not the plumper ones which are called snap beans. Our home grown mangetout grow up little sticks or fencing in our allotment, and we've even managed to get some early ones by sowing in our polytunnel, though their season tends to be short as they don't seem to like too much heat. They are such attractive little plants with their delicate white flowers and curling tendrils that I've never had the heart to take them when small, though I know pea shoots are a delicacy.
Nutritionally, mangetout are a real bonus, and children find them appealing because of their sweet taste. (My daughter used to graze on them in the allotment when she was small!) as well as plenty of dietary fibre, mangetout contain Vitamin C, Folic acid (a B-complex vitamin) and Vitamin K. They are also a source of cancer-preventing flavonoids and Vitamin A.