Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Perfectly A-Peas-ing

This year I have become strangely obsessed with spring produce. It might be the two tiny garden boxes in my backyard that I tend to “harvest” things from well before they are actually ready to be picked, or it may be the fact that there seems to be more actual local produce to enjoy this year. Perhaps I am just noticing it more, but there are a few stores around town, as well as the farmer’s market that all seem to be carrying a host of new bright green veggies waiting for me.

The one thing I had always wanted to try was fresh shelled peas. It coincides with my early 20th century fantasy about sitting on a porch shelling peas – I probably read at least 20 books growing up where that scenario took place. And finally, this weekend I got my wish (kind of). It wasn’t exactly a farmhouse porch, but it was a comfy couch watching college rugby finals. Not quite the same, but I’ll take it none-the-less.

I had recently read a recipe for peas with prosciutto, which sounded amazing. We did make that, but since I just read about it on another blog, it felt wrong to poach it so soon. I do recommend that you try this recipe though. Plus when you tell the two sisters who sold you the peas and prosciutto that was your plan and they oooh and aahhhh, you know you have a good thing on your hands.
Besides cooking peas, I have really been testing the “What grows together, Goes together” mantra that so often gets tossed around by chefs and foodies. Well let me tell you – it works. As Joe can attest, I have been plucking a medley of fresh leaves from our garden that on their own are not ready to eat, but mixed together can produce a nice little meal. I have been just chucking these greens into a sauté pan and then tossing them with pasta. Which turns out well, although there really isn’t any forethought with them.
But when I saw mini red potatoes, and small shell peas at the farm stand in our town, I couldn’t resist. A warm potato, pea and radish salad sounded fantastic. And it was. So once again “What Grows Together, Goes Together” really holds true.
Potato, Pea, and Radish salad with Basil Red Wine Vinaigrette

I happened to also pick a small (tiny) beet out of the garden the other day, just to see how big it was. So if you happen to have any radish sized beets lying around feel free to add this to the mix.

½ lb small red potatoes, or larger potatoes cut into large chunks
¼ c red onion, diced
½ c small shell peas, washed but left intact
½ c fresh green beans, tips snapped off
¼ radishes, sliced thinly into rounds

For the Vinaigrette
1 Tb red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 squirt of Dijon mustard (about 1 tsp)
3 Tb Olive oil
A few leaves of fresh Basil, chopped
Good pinch of Salt and fresh ground pepper

Wash potatoes, and place in a large pot of cool salted water. Set pot on stove and bring to a boil. Cook potatoes until almost fork tender. Add peas, beans and beats (if using) and blanche for about 2 minutes. Drain the vegetables and run cold water over them to cool. They should still be warm, but not too warm to handle. Slice potatoes in half, or if using chucks leave as is. In the still warm pot that was used for the boiling, toss in red onion to allow to soften just a bit. Then add back in the vegetables as well as the sliced radishes.

To make the vinaigrette, add all ingredients into a small jar or salad dressing shaker. Close tightly and shake vigorously for about a minute until it has emulsified (the mustard helps with this). Pour over vegetables in pot and stir to coat, being careful not to break up potatoes.

Serve warm, or let cool and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

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