Peas Please

Tiny little globes of delicious spring!

 


Peas, they're not exactly what we thought they were. They were those little morsels of deliciousness; a just reward for work well done. Today they, those little balls of delight referred to as English peas, are being replaced. Our pea consumption is now greatly augmented by the peas for the lazy man. You know I'm talking about you Snow pea, and yes Sugar Snap, and don't get me started on Super Sugar Snaps!

Yes, in this day of instant gratification we just go ahead and eat the whole damn pea! What's up with that? What happened to the hours of shucking, the backer lined with a printed cloth napkin? Stealing peas as you went along? Getting bits of pea fiber wedged under your nails, then being finally finished, full of peas and with surprisingly little to show for your efforts?That's what makes peas something special. Well that and their deliciously sweet, earthy, and surprisingly perfumed flavor profile. I love peas, they are one of spring's great treats, and they make you work for your reward. Something that true foodies know makes food taste better. Why do you think Fava beans are so awesome? Because you have to peel each and every one of them! OK, so even I can deal with a little convenience now and again. Let's bring on the peas, and maybe some of those new fangled ones as well as we celebrate the arrival of spring!

Peas with Lemon, Mint, and Scallions

Butter and cream. That’s all you really need to make peas that are stunningly delicious. A little salt of course as well and perhaps a hint of white pepper, but it’s really the fat that helps to spear the sweet snap of the pea across the palate and give it length in the mouth. All the rest of this stuff? Well that’s like the oak on wine. Seasoning spice, minty fresh and with the spark of acid that is perfect for highlighting and contrasting the sweetness of the peas. 
 
 
I could eat a big bowl of peas prepared this way, especially if I were to not be the sole shucker, in which case I might make allowances for expanding the ingredient list. With the purity of flavor here, and layers and nuance there are really only a few options that seem ideally suited to this dish. The obvious choices are gruner and Sauvignon Blanc but to my mind this is the perfect time to break out the greatest examples of Muller Thurgau. Minty, sapid and slightly herbal, it’s a match made in heaven. Hunt down the Feldmarschall, serve the peas with seared pork chops and it it’ll sing with the pairing!
 
Two to Try:
 
 

Fresh Green Peas and Sugar Snap Peas in Sesame Dressing

While we could easily prepare this dish with peas alone, I will give in and allow for this blend of the classic and new fangled. The seasoning here is also a bit of a new twist, at least for me, though I would find this to be more predictable with snow peas. The oriental flavor can be taken up a notch with the addition of a little freshly grated ginger, and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.  
 
 
With the heaviness of the sesame oil in particular, and also the ginger should you choose to go that route, you’ll need a rich wine to pair with this recipe. Something that has enough power to pair with the oil and soy, yet enough of an acid backbone to help cut the fat and highlight the sweetness of the peas. A little spice would also be appreciated here. A rhone styled blend, something with a little Viognier in the mix, would make for an interesting pairing and I wold add in some quickly sauteed chicken, or even better, rabbit to help round out the meal. 
 
Two to Try:
 
 
 

Stir-Fried Cauliflower with Green Peas & Ginger

Since we’ve already broken the culture barrier here let’s keep going with this great blend of vegetables and spices. I love cauliflower and am always looking for new ways to use it. Here’s a killer example, all spiced up and actually spicy if that’s your thing.  A nice bowl of Jasmine rice could complete this meal, though there’s no real reason to stop there.
 
 
This recipe really could use something to help serve as a foil for all it’s gorgeously layered flavors. I would be tempted to break out some lobster, but the last thing we want to deal with after shucking them peas is more manual labor. But wait. The recipe calls for frozen peas! Things are always better with fresh peas, but if you insist then I’m serving this with my lobster and I’m breaking out the Scheurebe. It’s a mouthful to pronounce, but it comes with layers of tropical fruit and hints of floral spice that will chest bump your dinner all they way down into your belly.
 
Two to try:
 

Pea and Bacon Risotto

And, we’re back. Back in the land of wine, past, and yes, risotto. I know I fall back on familiar favorites far too much, but let’s face it, risotto rocks. And this has bacon in it. It’s peas and bacon. Sweet earthy, smoky, sweet, and porky goodness all wrapped up in forkfuls of tender crisp, creamy, dreamy risotto. What is there not to like? God, I could eat this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, though not if you’re going to cook this with frozen peas. 
 
 
Simply put this is one of the greatest dishes for highlighting the flavors of fresh peas. Risotto rice has a delicate flavors, slightly nutty and earthy and that earthiness marries with the earthiness of the peas seamlessly. The bacon adds a bit of a smoky acent to the dish, and provides for chewy little nubs of textural contrast. Brilliant and simple. Make the wine much the same. Bright and mineral, with a twist of bitter almond for contrast and just enough fruit to serve as a foil for the dish but with no risk of overpowering it. Soave would be a fine match here, but I’d prefer a fine Verdicchio.
 
Two to try:

Spring Pea Frittata

Speaking of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I seemed to have skipped brunch. Here we have a wonderful use for fresh peas. One of the reasons I love fried rice is the blending of eggs and eas, and I must admit onions on bean sprouts for that matter. But there is something special about the layering of flavors that comes from blending peas with eggs. This is a delightfully simple recipe, and there’s even some leek here, along with a touch of mint, adding a great base of flavor that helps to highlight the peas.
 
 
While this is an easy dish for lunch, it’s probably most at home on a lazy Sunday for lunch, though the recipe does call for fresh peas so some work might be required before you sit down to chow down. Thankfully you’ll only need a half cup of peas, though I’d be likely to thrown in double that. At brunch this sort of screams out for Prosecco, but I’d be really interested in pairing this with the fruity and slightly vegetal flavors of Gruner Veltliner, and there are even a few sparkling versions that would absolutely kill it with this dish. 
 
Two to Try:
 
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