First, the bad news. This is the first year that my peas have been struck by some kind of pest. It’s also the first year I’ve seen squirrels in our back yard.
Coincidence? I think not.
At first I assumed it was rabbits, and was fine with letting them cadge the bottom-most pods off of my plants. But then I saw one damaged pod about four feet off the ground, and since then most of the remaining ones have been attacked, some of them completely destroyed. A Master Gardener of my acquaintance suggested making a deterrent spray with the radishes I still have growing, as they are surely nice and spicy now that the weather has become hot and dry.
On the other hand, this hot, dry weather will probably spell the end of pea season anyway, so I may just go with harvesting as frequently as possible, and spend the rest of the year plotting my anti-squirrel strategy for next spring. You’d think with a dog and a cat who have frequent access to the back yard, this would be a problem easily solved.
Still, I managed to harvest a good two cups of shelled peas in the first week, and thanks to the reference source that my blog has become, I remembered that last year Miss Chef had discovered the perfect way to appreciate them. She hadn’t been very happy with the results of our first attempt, but I knew that just a bit of finessing would fix everything.
First, I had to obtain some excellent pasta, which I did at Pasta & Provisions, a local store that has just recently opened a more convenient booth at Atherton Farmers Market near Uptown. I also needed goat cheese, and of course that would come from none other than our own Bosky Acres.
When I’d shelled the last day’s harvest I’d held on to the pods, and I started my meal by putting them to simmer for about 30 minutes, to create a quick pea stock. Meanwhile, I blanched the peas, dropping them in batches into boiling water for a minute or less, then shocking them in ice water. I still had some garlic scapes left, so I cut them into chunks, cooked them for a couple of minutes in the simmering pea stock, then added them to my peas. Next I grabbed our handy stick blender and made a beautiful pea purée.
Isn’t that an amazing green color? I did keep some of the peas whole, to add to the finished dish.
What? When did I add that lemon? Oh, I didn’t; it’s totally unrelated. Miss Chef was using its zest and juice to make a bruschetta with ricotta, and some leftover pea hummus from a Friendship Gardens event I’d helped organize the previous day.
It was easily the most pea-centric meal I’ve ever had.
Anyway, back to the main course—I had just puréed the peas and scapes while my pasta was cooking. Now comes the magic moment, when we put it all together.
A plop of pea purée, a plop of goat cheese. Pour a tablespoon or two of the pea stock over it—not much!—and commence to stirring.
Oh yeah, I tossed some of the leftover blanched peas in there, too. You can see how the cheese and peas combined to make a wonderfully creamy sauce. I can imagine adding chicken and either some diced tomatoes or blanched carrots for color. Peas and carrots, eh?
As it was, this made about four servings, and I ate three of them over the next few days. Miss Chef knows I get all gaga over my pea harvest every year, so she humors me by standing by and letting me gobble it all down. The smile on my face probably more than makes up for it.
Besides, I harvested another cup of shelled peas since we made this, and she’s already used those in a stir fry. There may not be many peas this year, but they will be appreciated.