Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fresh Peas and Mint

This isn’t really a recipe, I don’t suppose. It’s more of a celebration of being able to grow peas in my own backyard. Real peas that grow in pods on real vines that grow out of the ground. This is why I garden. You can’t get peas like this any other way.

I was able to pick enough, almost 11 ounces, of peas in pods to shell a heaping cup of little jade-colored jewels, about 5 ounces by weight. I love to just eat these straight out of a pod, but this was enough to do something with. This was enough, I decided, to dress with a bit of lemon and olive oil, enough to flavor just a bit with fresh mint (also growing in the backyard.)

I wrote this up as a recipe below, but it really was just a bowl full of all the peas I could pick and shell, a squeeze of lemon juice, a splash of olive oil, a pinch of kosher salt, and the finely chopped leaves of a sprig of fresh mint. I recommend just starting with that kind of laid-back attitude and as many peas as you can grow.

The lemon, oil, and salt just give the peas a little coating of delicate flavor, and the mint, used in this small amount, provides a simple, compatible herbal background. But, really, it’s all about the peas. Sure, we’re accustomed to the humble pea, most of the time in some preserved form that may be pretty good, or may not. This simple treatment of super-fresh, sweet, raw peas, however, elevates their familiar lowliness to something exotic, something so out of the ordinary that you might just wonder how you ever could have thought you knew peas before. I can hardly wait until the next wave of plump pods is ready to pick!

Fresh Peas with Mint
I recommend eating this simple little salad with a spoon, so the little peas don’t roll away.

The amounts given in this recipe are approximations based on the amount of peas I had from one picking. Adjust for your own pea harvest or acquisition and your own taste.

1 heaping cup freshly shelled peas (from about 11 ounces peas in their pods)
1 ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
pinch kosher salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint 

1. Place the peas in a small bowl. Drizzle on the lemon juice and olive oil, and sprinkle on the salt.  Stir in the mint and serve.

Makes 2 servings.

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