Tuesday, July 17, 2012

In Praise of Peas

When I was a kid, peas were grayish-green, rather mushy, and tasted like the metal can they were packed in.  At some point, we began to get frozen peas:  better color, better texture, but pretty starchy and bland.  Fresh peas, when I finally had them as an adult, were a revelation.

And here's a revelatory way to prepare them.  This comes from Pierre Franey's More 60-Minute Gourmet, a delightful book.

For every 1-1/2 to 2 cups of fresh peas (the fresher, the better), melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saute pan.  When the foam subsides, add a couple of tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mint and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.  Add the peas, then salt and pepper to taste.  Give the whole thing a stir or two, then cover the pan.  Cook just until the peas are done--I cooked mine for two minutes.  If the peas are super-fresh (in other words, you have just picked them from your own garden), it can take as little as a minute.

The peas in the photo above came from a wonderful organic farm here on Mount Desert Island called Beech Hill Farm.  It's run by the College of the Atlantic, a rather free-thinking and free-spirited place.

You won't believe how good peas prepared this way can taste.  The dish will completely supplant all childhood memories of mushy, metallic legumes.

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