Peas and Pods

March 15, 2015

Early spring in California. Peas, mint, and lamb.  I bought 1/2 pound shelled peas at the Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market, and another 1/4 pound peas still in their pods, which I shelled at home, saving the peas and the pods. Here’s why. I had to make a pea stock so I sauteed over medium heat 1/2 coarsely chopped small onion in 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, until the onions were soft, then added the pea pods and just enough water to cover them. I simmered the stock for half an hour, allowing it to reduce slightly. While that was simmering, I cleaned the leaves off 1 small bunch of very fresh mint, sliced chiffonade, a fancy word for slicing thinly, not chopping willy nilly, and tossed the mint stems into the simmering stock. You can imagine, I hope, how the broth I strained and set aside tasted like half a cup of spring. Using the same saucepan in which I make the stock, I sauteed all the peas in 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, until they were hot and making a nice cooking noise in the pan.

Here’s the only fussy part: You want the peas to have to a binder so turn off the heat, remove half the hot peas, and add about 1/4 cup pea stock and almost all the mint leaves and grind into a coarse, loose puree (I used an immersion blender). Stir this puree into the peas and simmer for several minutes, no longer, until the peas are soft but still bright green. It would be a pity to do all this and have them look like they came out of a can. Season with salt and finely ground fresh pepper, and garnish with the remaining mint leaf chiffonade.

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