The Farm (Shares) Report, 6/27/06 (Peas!)

June 28, 2006 psipsina

You may crown the month of May with lilac, put in her ears ear-rings of cherries, dress her in tender young leaves — all very well, but it will be nothing without a neck-lace of green peas. — Author unknown

May is already over, June is nearing its end, but last night we received a pound of peas in the shell. Well, it’s New England, it takes a while for the growing season to get going. Whoever wrote about peas in May must have lived somewhere else.

We got other things, too (list below), but the peas were the best. Fresh green peas are nothing like frozen ones, or, heaven forbid, those grayish yellow mush balls in a can that I grew up on. Green peas, picked off the vine today and eaten tonight, are the closest thing to culinary heaven on earth.

My only complaint is, giving two people a pound of fresh green peas in the shell is like handing each of them a thimbleful of Champagne and then whisking away the bottle – it’s enough to arouse desire without satisfying it.

I shelled them, put them in just enough cold water to cover, added a pinch of salt, and brought them to a boil. When they’d boiled for exactly three minutes, no more, no less, off the stove they came, to the sink to be drained, back into the pot to be shaken a bit over the flame to dry the last of the water. Then I tossed in what the English call a good knob of butter and a little fresh parsley from my herb garden.

I wanted to cook them as the French do, with a little shredded lettuce instead of water, so they could steam in the lettuce juice, but the Red-Haired Boy couldn’t bear to cook the beautiful lettuce we received this week. Too bad, I’ve always wanted to try peas that way.

Still, lightly cooked fresh peas with lots of butter aren’t exactly a disappointment.

RHB made salmon, or something. (At least, I think it was salmon. Who cares, when you have peas?)

We also got:

1 bunch red leaf lettuce
1 bunch of fava bean tendrils
1 bunch of chard
1 bunch of baby carrots (the greens smell wonderful, spicy – I wish I could make perfume from them)
1 bunch of baby beets
1 bunch red Russian kale, which is actually green with purple veins and is shaped like oak leaves

Speaking of green with purple leaves, why are so many plants that are purple not called purple? Red cabbage, red Russian kale, black tulips, even the fancy blue potatoes – they are all purple. What’s wrong with purple, anyway?

Here’s another recipe, which I sent to E., who also gets farm shares, though not from Farmer Steve. It’s a way to cook tough greens quickly without heating up the kitchen.

1 bunch of greens, preferably something sturdy like kale or collards, though anything will do
1/4 cup of chopped onion, more or less
lots of oil

Trim off the stems, but don’t bother trimming out the veins, even if they are tough. You’ll be slicing them so thin that toughness doesn’t matter. In this dish, a very thin slice of the vein adds a nutty crunch.

Sharpen a nice long knife, unless you, like me, keep your knives sharp at all times. You really need a sharp knife for this.

Chop some onion, maybe even some of those green ones that probably come in your farm shares during the spring.

Roll up a stack of greens, cigar fashion. Slice them across in thin slivers. Did I mention you need a really sharp knife for this? A nice long knife is best, like an 8-inch chef’s knife, or a longish carving or utility knife. What you really need is the super long, super thin knife I inherited from my housemates 15 years ago, but I don’t know what it’s called. A chef’s knife will do. Make sure it’s sharp. Keep your fingers out of the way.

(If you are Mr. or Ms. Language Person, you might enjoy knowing that the name for this way of cutting leafy stuff is chiffonade. You can do it with broad-leaved herbs like basil, too. Chiffonade of basil makes a pretty garnish for Thai food.)

Sauté the onions in lots of oil for a few minutes. Add the greens and sauté until they are bright green, then maybe a minute or two longer. You MUST keep stirring – employ a child, a spouse, or a passerby to help you. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to help them along. (The greens, not the helper.)

Add a little salt and pepper at the table. Twirl them on your fork like noodles. They will get stuck in the gaps in your back teeth, but who cares? That’s what dental floss is for.


Entry Filed under: chiffonade, community supported agriculture, csa, farm shares, food, fresh, greens, parker farm, peas, recipe, vegetables

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