Saturday, July 9, 2011

And then, there is Pea Toast

Do you like peas? I don't, really. When I think of peas, I think of frozen green pellets that turn into brownish-green, grainy mush. Yuck.

But then there's pea season, which, sadly, is more or less over. We grew a decent number of peas in our garden, planted out of duty rather than love, because, of course, I didn't like peas.

Fresh peas out of the garden were a bit of an eyeopener, though. They aren't mushy, or grainy, or flavourless. They snap, they are sweet and tasty, they smell good, and they brighten up whatever you serve them with.

And you can use them to make pea toast, which is reason enough in itself.

So I've added peas to my list of beloved seasonal foods that are only worth eating for about two weeks per year - but well worth waiting for (along with strawberries, cherries, wild blueberries, sea asparagus, morels, garlic scapes, fiddleheads, soft shell crab, fruit cake).

But back to pea toast.

1 1/2 cups freshly shelled peas
1 scallion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 oz pecorino fresco (I used pecorino fresco because I happened to have it on hand - all summer I buy cheese at the farmers markets and one of the cheese sellers at the Wychwood Park market sells pecorino fresco, which I buy every week. But you could substitute any mild young cheese - make some ricotta, perhaps, or even a little cottage cheese might be good, maybe with some lemon peel and rosemary to lift it a bit, or you could use a couple spoonfuls of plain yogurt)
Generous shake of sea salt
Some kind of delicious flatbread (see below)

Cook the peas: before you start, get your ice bath ready. Blanch peas for about a minute in salty water, drain them, then immediately pop them into the ice water.

Make the dressing: whisk together everything except the peas. If it's too thick, add more olive oil. Taste it. Add salt, pepper, lemon or cinnamon as you see fit until it tastes really good.

Crush the peas a little: I used the back of a wooden spoon. Don't go crazy, just break most of them up a little - no mush!
Add about half the dressing and toss the peas to coat. Taste the thing, and add more dressing until you think you've optimized the experience. I added all the dressing except about a tablespoon full, which I then just ate with the aforementioned tablespoon, because it really was yummy. Put the bowl in the fridge while you decide what to do about the bread.
This is not pea toast in space! I have a black
 counter top. I love photographing food on
it because the food shows up on it. But it does
look a bit like a UFO.

You could eat this on pita wedges. In fact, it's exactly the sort of thing that people eat on pita wedges. But why? WHY? Pita wedges suck! Well, store bought ones do. If you are going to go with store-bought bread, I would suggest a ciabatta, or a lightly herbed bakery focaccia. But any bread with flavor and a gently chewy texture would do. Or you could make bread! Make a lightly herbed focaccia, some naan (easy and terrific - but go easy on the butter for this dish [like I ever went easy on the butter in anything]) or some Ciabatta (a bit harder, since ciabatta really prefers a mature sour dough starter).

Anyway, toast the bread lightly on one side, generously spoon on the pea mixture, and away you go!

Just as a side note, Jeff is always indulgent of my various cooking manias, as he appreciates benefiting from them. But despite his usual tolerance, I could tell he was unimpressed by the idea of "pea toast". In fact, I would say he was deeply skeptical! But now, having scarfed down half a loaf of focaccia, generously piled with pea topping, his only concern is that pea season is over, and he will have to wait until next year for his next fix of pea toast!  I'm with him. This exceeded expectations!

1 comment:

  1. No, I have TWO concerns. One, that pea season is over! Two, that my secret pea toast eating binge is now public across the entire universe!