It is for their sweetest simplicity that we value them.
~Nigel Slater, Tender
We had our first sampling of peas from our garden last week.
I've noticed that we don't see them in stores around here very often, and those we do see--labelled English Peas--are generally sad and lifeless. But fresh from the garden they are another thing entirely!
Memory lane: When I was a kid we used to travel from Seattle to La Conner, in the Skagit Valley to visit my great-grandmother. The road through the farmlands had a few sharp turns and a thrilling spot where a dip provided the stomach-dropping effect of a roller coaster. What made it especially fun in the springtime was the fact that the overloaded pea trucks would lose parts of their loads as they bumped and turned. We would watch the road ahead, eagle-eyed and avid--the shout would go up, "Peas! Peas!" The car would come to a screeching halt and one of us would leap out to grab the vines that had bounced onto the roadway. (For the curious, peas are harvested by pulling up the entire plant--we were not hunting for shelled peas!!!) When we reached Nani's house it was time for the satisfying work of popping open the peapods and pushing the little green balls out with our thumbs.
I cooked the precious little handful quite simply, as befits the first harvest: melt some butter in a pan, toss in the peas and a tablespoon of water, some salt and pepper. Let the water boil away (about 2 minutes) and there you go, lovely sweet peas.
Some friends came for dinner before the peas were ready to pick, so I made Fresh Pea Soup with Mint out of frozen petite peas. It tasted nice and fresh! And you can never go wrong with peas cooked with shredded lettuce, French style. But as I anticipate picking more peas over the days ahead I think we might just let them sit with water and butter for a minute, maybe add a polite herb, and enjoy the sweet perfection of fresh from the garden peas....