Pass the peas, please!
That is a phrase I never thought I’d heard myself utter. You see, I suffered from a lifelong hatred of this vegetable in particular. My mom never made them, because she wasn’t a fan herself, so the only time I was ever presented with peas was in the fried rice my parents occasionally brought home from China Inn. But even then, I managed to pick my way around the food on my plate, greedily snapping up nuggets of salty pork and soft eggs with my chopsticks, always leaving behind a tiny pile of little green orbs.
I remember one unfortunate pea incident at my friend’s house when I was about ten years old. Her mom, a very sweet, but exhausted mother of eight was spooning out veggies she had heated from a package…the dreaded carrot, corn and pea mixture where everything tasted like frozen. Being the polite guest that my mother had trained me to be, I gulped down the disgusting bits of vegetables first. Her mother was so excited–she had discovered a kid who actually ate veggies–and she enthusiastically heaped another serving on my plate. Look, kids! Here’s a girl who loves her peas! Why can’t you eat your vegetables like Alison? Ugh.
After I became an adult, I recognized that my disdain for peas was illogical…immature even. Why could I eat Brussels sprouts, beets and broccoli, but still hate peas? So I tried them every chance I got. And I still really disliked them. I didn’t care for their flavor at all, and when cooked, or overcooked as it turns out, a disgusting mush exploded into my mouth each time I took a bite.
My world changed when I discovered fresh peas at the farmers market. They were bright and beautiful, and when steamed gently for one minute they became tender, but not mushy. However, I found that the best way to eat them, at least for me, was raw. It was a revelation! I shelled them and ate them by the handful, tossed them into salads and over pasta, and finally, after reading one of Jamie Oliver’s recipes, I learned to blend them to make a raw pea puree that is as fresh tasting as its spring green color.
Pea season is fleeting, which makes them all the more alluring, I think. Grab them at the farmers’ market while you can and get your fill…because they won’t come around until this time next year, and absence truly does make the heart grow fonder. This pea pesto makes a wonderful, light spring appetizer. I like to serve it with a hunk of creamy brie or goat cheese. Spread the cheese over a gluten-free cracker or slice of warm baguette, and top with the pea pesto. Yes. Find more fantastic and slightly indulgent recipes over at Amy’s Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.
- 1 cup freshly shelled English peas
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
- juice from one lemon
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of water, if necessary to thin
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place all ingredients except olive oil and water in a blender. Pulse until mixture is beginning to get pureed. Scrape down the sides of the blender and pulse again.
- Carefully drizzle in the olive oil through the hole in the lid while blending on low speed. Drizzle in the water and continue to blend until the mixture is smooth, adding more water if necessary. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and pulse again. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately, or cover and keep in the refrigerator for up to one day.