Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fresh Peas Go Pop

Photo: Andrew Budziak

It’s true, they do. When they’re just right—when the pod is firm, but the peas are small enough to leave room for an air pocket—they make a great little popping sound.

But I’m sure you know this already. Maybe you too spent time on the porch as a kid, shelling peas for supper. Hardly a chore, really, especially when you’re sneaking them into your mouth by the handful. They’re so sweet.

Photo: Andrew Budziak

This summer, I get to shell peas again. Andrew and I are in Winnipeg, but on the weekends, we go to the farm, where my mum’s garden is gorgeous, and full of promise. It’s also full of beets, summer squash, and carrots. And until last weekend, it was full of peas. But we took care of that.

Photo: Andrew Budziak

I made these peas-on-toast a few nights ago. It’s great as a part of one of those light, I-don’t-really-want-to-eat nights, with a small pile of scrambled eggs. It’s not much of a recipe, more of a splash of this, and a knob of that. And if you have a food processor, it will be even faster than my fork-smashing method.

AND: This sounds crazy. It certainly did when I described my sandwich to my colleagues the next day. But as leftovers, they make a great sandwich, with good crusty bread and smoky cheese.

Fork-smashed peas-on-toast

Makes four large toasts

2 cups of fresh shelled green peas

2 tablespoons salted butter

a good splash of white wine

a crusty baguette

1 large garlic clove, halved

1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil

In a large sauté pan, heat the butter to melt, on medium heat. When it is completely melted, add the peas, and toss to coat. Turn the heat up just a tad, so that the wine will get a good sizzle when it hits the pan. Add the wine, and adjust the heat so that the peas cook gently, and the alcohol evaporates. Well, mostly, anyway. What you want is cooked peas that are still bright green, but soft enough to mash. This should take somewhere between 5 – 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, turn the broiler on in your oven, and set the grill about five inches from the element. Cut you bread; once right across, for two halves. Then cut each through the middle of their lengths. Think: two 6 inch subs. These will be your four toasts. Next, brush the olive oil on the cut side of each toast. Place them on a baking pan, cut side up, and place under the broiler until just toasted. Turn over, and toast the underside.

When the bread is toasted, rub the garlic on the oiled side of the bread. Set aside. Your peas should ready. If they have a lot of liquid, drain them. Then, with a fork, give them a good smushing—they need to be spreadable peas, not the kind of peas that keep rolling off your toast. Finally, spread the peas on the cut side of the toast, piled high. A sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan would be nice, too.

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