Ok, so I don’t have any fresh peas from my garden yet. I don’t expect to see any until next spring. There is, however, a trusty package of frozen baby peas in the freezer. And, I have also been pinching the very tops of the snap and snow peas to encourage bushiness (the flowering sweet peas get pinched as well but they are not edible). Those trimmings can be tossed in a salad or used as a garnish for the following pasta dish.
I’ve been using the young fava bean leaves in salads. I don’t grow favas for the beans but rather for their ability to fix nitrogen and improve the soil, they are called a cover crop. The leaves have the subtle flavor of favas and are a lot less trouble than the beans. Because I want their energy to go back into the soil and not into making beans, I cut dig them in when they start to flower. Meanwhile the young leaves are delicious.
Pasta with Peas (Serves 6-8)
The following recipe uses 4 of the ingredients from the basic 20:
- Pasta – 1 lb. (regular or gluten free), your choice of shape
- Olive oil or softened butter – 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup)
- Parmesan – grated, about a cup plus more for serving
- Pepper to taste
- Frozen peas – ½ package defrosted
- Fresh herbs from your garden – mint, parsley, thyme – a good handful, minced
- Optional – Pea shoots from pinching your plants or the store (I’ve seen them at Trader Joe’s)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt (kosher) until it tastes like the sea. Toss in your pasta and cook according to the package directions, tasting to make sure it is done to your liking. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta. Do not rinse.
Add the olive oil or butter to the warm pot; add the peas and heat for about 30 seconds. Dump your pasta back in the hot pot, add the herbs and toss until well mixed, add a little of the hot cooking water if it looks dry, then the cheese and toss again. If the mixture still looks dry, add a bit more cooking water. The cooking water contains starch, which turns butter and cheese into a creamy sauce. Don’t add too much as you don’t want it to be watery. Taste to see if it needs more salt. Turn into a warm serving bowl or individual plates. Garnish with the pea shoots and grate some additional cheese on the top.