Sunday, August 08, 2010

Farmer's Market Bounty: A Pea Convert

I've always hated peas. As a child, I loathed their mealy boiled texture. Peas were a straight-from-the-freezer abomination that my brother loved - I tried to slip him mine whenever I could. While I no longer try to pawn the little green nuggets off on anyone, they're certainly weren't my favourite vegetable.

Fresh Ontario Field Peas
 This summer, though, has really caused me to rethink peas. Early in July, my Mum and I picked some up from Ottawa's Parkdale market. I wasn't expecting much after spending a goof half hour shelling them, so I ate a raw one reluctantly. They were like nothing I'd ever had before. Tender, sweet without even a whiff of mealiness. My eyes were opened to new possibility. That night, after plunging them in boiling water for 20 seconds, we tossed them with butter and mint.

Sweet, sweet green gold.
 I won't like to you, I ate every last remaining pea in the serving dish once everyone had had their first helping.

Shelling the peas.
Tender I
This time, I didn't have mint in the house, but I did have Nigel Slater's Tender to guide me. (If you haven't picked it up, Tender I is his guide to growing and eating vegetables. It's phenomenal.) The man said lemon and olive, and that's exactly what I did.

Okay, I substituted butter for the olive oil. Everything is better with butter.

How to:
Throw some butter in a pan, let it melt. Throw in your peas, and squeeze half a lemon over top. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Eat immediately and wonder why you didn't purchase more. Then remember how long you spent shelling those peas. Reminisce over the good old days when you were actually eating the peas.

Okay, it didn't look pretty, but let's not just rely on looks!
I served this with his potato cake, and apologize for the vague directions after the jump.

Put butter in a skillet [about 2 tbsp], and let melt. Shred three potatoes (I was too lazy to peel them) and turn into the aforementioned skillet, pressing down to create an even cake. Nestle 4 unpeeled cloves of garlic in there and season the whole thing generously with salt and pepper. Let cook over low heat for 20 minutes, until a gold crust forms. Gradually and gently, loosen the potato cake from the bottom of the pan using a metal spatula. Now comes the fun part!

Nestled garlic in the shredded potato.

Place a heat proof dish on top of the skillet and flip the cake out onto the dish. Now melt some more butter in the skillet and slide the cake back in so the other side gets a chance to brown. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.

I flipped the whole thing another two times, just to make sure everything was crisp. See?
Note the beautiful soft garlic and gorgeous huge flakes of salt.
 I could have eaten the whole thing myself. Instead I settled for a quarter, plus a few nibbles once dinner was over. It's not pretty, but ooooh, is it tasty.


dmcL said...

I am going to try BOTH of these as soon as I possibly can! Maybe Glynis and I need to walk to the market tomorrow and acquire some peas. I, too, generally hate peas, which I've often thought is a shame, since I like to find a way to like most vegetables. This sounds like the way!

And potato cake?! Are you kidding me?! Yummmmmmm!

Alyson said...

Oh man, fresh peas are a whole 'nother ball game! Delicious.

The key to the potatoes really is low and slow. The thing doesn't have any binders, so it's fragile if you start moving it before it's ready.

Let me know how they turn out!

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