Easy Peasy (and Asparagusy)

Easy Peasy (and Easy Asparagusy)

$12 at Farmers Market/4 Servings = $3/serving

I remember hating peas when I was little. Canned peas are often bad
and every time I see a small child grimacing when a bowl of mushy peas
is put before him, I want to say “Yes child. Your reaction is
appropriate. The food in front of you does not taste very good.”

Fresh peas in season are another food all together.  Truth be told, I
usually eat them faster than I can shell them and no cooking actually
takes place (just a lot of putting shells in compost and peas in my
belly). But just as overcooked peas can be unpleasant, raw peas are
not for everyone either. It’s time to blanche. No, I don’t mean it’s
time to do a scene from A Streetcar Named Desire or The Golden Girls
(though both might be fun). I mean it’s time to boil the peas very
briefly and then shock them in cold water.

When I first started cooking, I remember reading Cooking for Dummies
and learning that chefs blanch and cold water shock vegetables all the
time and that while it doesn’t take much time or skill, it improves
the quality of veggie dishes immensely. Sweet, fresh peas take very
well to blanching as do fresh asparagus spears. Since both tend to
appear around the same time at the market every year, why not combine
them into what might be the freshest salad or side dish you’ve ever
had? Start to finish should be no more than 15 minutes.

You’re eating vegetables so fresh and lightly cooked that they may
have some serious crunch to them and that’s ok. This dish is spring.
It can’t be canned.

Salad of Blanched Peas and Asparagus

Bring a large saucepan of well-salted water to a boil

While water comes up to a boil, shell 2 pounds of peas

Break the tough ends off  a pound of asparagus spears  (it should
break naturally at the right place) and rinse

Cut asparagus into 1 inch pieces and put in bowl with peas

Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside

When water comes to boil, add peas and asparagus

After 2 minutes (maybe 2 and a half for thicker asparagus), drain in a
colander and immediately plunge into ice water

Let veggies sit in ice water for 1 minute and then drain again

Toss veggies in bowl with around 6 tablespoons of the best olive oil
you can find and the juice of half a lemon

Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary

I add a few shavings of the trusty local pecorino that keeps for
around 4 months in the fridge but you could use Parmesan, a crumbly
blue, some leftover almonds, or nothing at all. See what you have
around and use it up. It will be good.


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