Celebrate the Season: Spring Pea, Spinach and Fennel Soup

Spring Pea, Spinach and Fennel Soup ©2014 La Domestique

June is the height of spring, when the garden really starts producing. You can see pink radish shoulders poking out of the soil, voluptuous bunches of salad greens and perfect pea pods dangling from delicate trellised vines. It’s an exciting time for a gardener, harvesting the first bounty of the year and bringing it straight to the table. The veg is still alive and full of nutritious goodness. You see, once vegetables are picked they begin to deteriorate, losing precious vitamins and minerals. By the time they reach the supermarket and languish on the counter for days these vegetables are only a shadow of their former selves. You may be trying to do the right thing and eat healthy fresh produce, but it’s just not the same as freshly harvested produce. The missing ingredient: life.

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Spring Onion, Pea, and Chive Frittata with Goat Cheese

Spring Onion, Pea, and Chive Frittata with Goat Cheese (c)2012

Frittata, the rustic Italian omelet, is a dish I make again and again during springtime. It’s a simple, forgiving technique- much like a crustless quiche- open to endless variations. The method is to lightly sauté  filling ingredients in a high-sided skillet, then pour over beaten eggs (with cream or milk) and cook for a moment on the stovetop until almost set, transferring the skillet to the oven broiler for a minute or two until puffed and golden on top. A frittata is easygoing, just like a sunny spring day, and can be served warm or at room temperature. It’s even good reheated the next morning for breakfast, after the flavors have had a chance to mingle overnight in the fridge. This laid back dish travels well and loves to go on picnics or garden parties. Frittata is a celebration of the spring garden, and it’s fun to modify the basic recipe based on what is ready for harvest. This week I’m enjoying a recipe for Spring Onion, Pea, and Chive Frittata with Goat Cheese that’s an ode to the flavors of spring: fresh herbs, sweet succulent peas, and tangy goat cheese.

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10 Ways Tuesday: Peas

Peas (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

I’ve got creative recipes for cooking with spring peas:

1.  Spring Pea & Herb Salad

Each year I look forward to cooking this Spring Pea & Herb Salad, excitedly pulling the card from my trusty recipe box. It’s the whole package: vibrant color, fresh flavor, and interesting texture. Peas, edamame, watercress, sorrel, and spring onions are tossed in the best extra-virgin olive oil and a couple pinches of flakey Maldon sea salt, then garnished with fresh mint and edible flowers. The flavors are more pronounced at room temperature, and so this salad is well-suited to carrying along on a spring picnic. It’s also great packed for a cheerful, healthy lunch.

2.  Smashed Peas on Crostini

I was smitten with Jamie Oliver’s recipe for Incredible Smashed Peas and Fava Beans on Toast the moment I saw him preparing it in his garden on the show, Jamie at Home. Peas, fava beans, mint, pecorino cheese, and olive oil are pounded into a purée with a mortar and pestle, then spread over grilled bread. Fresh mozzarella and pea shoots finish off the dish. It’s a beautiful celebration of the sweet, succulent pea in all its glory.

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Ingredient of the Week: Peas

This week at la Domestique we celebrate spring peas. In Chez Panisse Vegetables, Alice Waters writes, “The arrival of freshly picked green peas is one of the events that define high spring at Chez Panisse.” I remember sowing peas in my community garden plot last year and building the trellis, forcing wooden stakes into the hard, dry Colorado soil. Watching the peas grow was such a miracle, their dainty tendrils reaching out to grasp the trellis, winding around and around, encircling the netting. Each day they seemed to double in size, climbing further towards the sky, green leaves displayed proudly, soaking up the sun’s rays. Then there were delicate white flowers, shivering in the Colorado breeze. The next morning I had to do a double take when- could it have been overnight?- I found a bounty of two-inch-long pea pods dangling under the flowers. The trick in harvesting peas is allowing them to ripen and fill their pods comfortably, but making sure you get them before the birds do. It always seems that the opportunists know the perfect moment of ripeness and manage to beat the gardener to it by a few painful minutes.

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