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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Celebrate "The Greening"
...with Peas
As Spring begins to sprout her tender beauty, it's wonderful to begin to lighten up our menus with fresh ingredients. Easter approaches and lamb, fresh asparagus, spring onions and colorful eggs grace our tables. I like to think about the simple pea. As green as new foilage, the vegetable is often underated and underused. I've been searching for new recipes that feature one of Mother Nature's prettiest wee creations.
Maria Rodale, of Rodale Inc., authors a wonderful blog on cooking, planting, travel, etc. Check out:
Her new post offers instructions on getting outdoors to plant peas. There is no satisfaction like that of sowing, tending and harvesting one's own vegetables and then offering them up in a delicious, fresh dish, (or sharing them with others).
I found the following recipe by Bon Appetite and added my own signature to the dish. It's easy, inexpensive, and features the Petite Pea. If you can't find them fresh, frozen peas will work fine too. The mint wakes up the dish and will make you yearn for warmer days!

Along with a crusty baquette, I served this with a very complex Belgium beer called Gulden Draak, (Golden Dragon). Chardonney would be quite nice as well.

Pasta with Peas
Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 16-ounce package large shell pasta or Fiori
1/4 lb. of bacon
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1 16-ounce package frozen petite peas (do not thaw) OR 1 cup fresh peas
2 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
Instructions: Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot.
Cook bacon until crisp. Drain well and crumble. Set aside.
Meanwhile, bring cream to simmer in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add peas and simmer just until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 2 1/4 cups cheese and stir until melted and sauce thickens slightly, about 1 minute. Stir in bacon, mint and 1/4 cup parsley. Pour sauce over pasta and toss to coat, adding pasta cooking liquid by tablespoonfuls if dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl. Sprinkle with remaining parsley. Serve, passing additional Parmesan alongside.

Here's a wonderful recipe from the current issue of Bon Appetite using peas.
Green Pea Soup with Tarragon and Pea Sprouts
This healthy soup gets its vibrant color from frozen peas, making it easy and nutritious.
6 servings
2 16-ounce packages frozen petite peas, divided (do not thaw)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups sliced shallots (about 11 ounces)
4 cups (or more) vegetable broth
3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon, divided
Plain nonfat yogurt, stirred
Small fresh pea sprouts*
*Available at natural foods stores and Asian markets.
Place 1 cup peas in microwave-safe bowl; set aside. Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté until golden and almost tender, about 7 minutes. Add remaining peas, 4 cups broth, and 2 tablespoons tarragon; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and boil until flavors blend and peas are tender, about 7 minutes. Cool slightly. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until completely smooth. Return to same saucepan. Bring to simmer and thin with more broth by 1/4 cupfuls, if desired. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon tarragon. Season with pepper.
Cook reserved 1 cup peas in microwave until warm, about 1 minute.
Ladle soup into 6 bowls. Drizzle lightly with yogurt. Sprinkle whole peas over and garnish with pea sprouts.

1 comment:

  1. yum! how funny - I've been making a lot of peas lately, we've been steaming frozen peas and tossing with cilantro/olive oil/salt... but have been searching for a good soup recipe - perhaps this one is it! I've never cooked with tarragon yet. lovely spring musings :)