The weather this year has not been kind to spring and early summer produce. Everything seems to be arriving a bit later at the Greenmarket. Last weekend, I still saw potatoes, lots of potatoes, early garlic and some faint glimmers that of the lovely vegetables to come.
It was the colors that drew me towards the stands at the market. Row upon row of boxes of bright red strawberries have made their appearance. Of course I bought a box. How could I not? Next to them were piles of kelly green peapods heaped up high. I succumbed and bought some of those too.
Readers of my posts from last year will remember my hate relationship with peas from my childhood (no love involved), but as an adult, I discovered frozen petits pois and have learned to enjoy them from time to time. The only time that canned peas have ever found a place in my heart was the when my grandmother cooked them for me.
It is a strong memory, made all the more so by the fact that I don’t remember my father’s mother ever cooking anything else, or babysitting us other than that one time. I think that it was when my mother was in the hospital after giving birth to the oldest of my younger sisters. My grandmother dished up canned peas cooked in butter and pearl onions. I thought it was fantastic, and have always wondered why we never had them that way again.
Here’s a slightly more modern version using Greenmarket peas, blanched first, and then mixed with sautéed shallots. Of course the ones that I bought above did have to be shelled as well, which is just a little extra work, but so worth it in terms of taste. About 20 pods yielded 1/2 cup of the little green pearls (once I rescued some of the escapees from the kitchen floor).
Freshly-Shelled Peas with Sautéed Shallots
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Serves: 4 people, 1/4 cup each
1 cup freshly-shelled green peas
1 large shallot, sliced
2 teaspoons butter
Freshly ground black pepper
Put small saucepan of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Add shelled peas. Blanch for 4-5 minutes, testing by making sure the peas are almost cooked through. Drain and run cold water over them to stop the peas from cooking.
Melt 1 teaspoon butter in skillet over low heat. Add sliced shallots and sauté until soft and translucent. Add the cooked peas and toss to incorporate with the shallots.
Add remaining teaspoon of butter and season with several grinds of fresh black pepper. Once the butter has melted, remove peas from the pan and serve.