Much like last week’s rice, I never thought I could be so excited about peas.
The original recipe here is for Sauteed Peas with Shallot and Mint, but I made this as an accompaniment to steamed trout with tarragon butter and I wasn’t sure how the mint would play with everything. Since I already had tarragon on hand, I subbed it in and it was just fantastic. For anyone who is just learning to cook and who is nervous about substitutions or throwing things together, know that I used to be the same way. I didn’t have a natural flair for knowing when a pinch of something would improve a dish or which extra spices would add some kick, but after years of cooking from recipes and becoming familiar with flavors and knowing what I like, it’s pretty much second nature now. You still have to be willing to turn out a dud or two, but such things really can be learned.
The concept for our peas is #24: Green Vegetables Like it Hot – Then Cold. This is all about blanching veggies, which is the process of quickly boiling them, then shocking them in cold water to stop the cooking. This allows raw veggies to get soft, but prevents them from taking on that olive green color that so many of us associate with dreaded vegetables. (Although, that color isn’t necessarily a bad thing – remember my braised green beans? Purposefully cooked long and delicious.)
This recipe employs frozen peas, which have already undergone the blanching process. It’s a perfect recipe for a quick meal because you basically saute some shallot and then dump in the peas and other ingredients and let them heat up. I didn’t time myself, but I’m certain it took me under an hour to get the trout, mashed potatoes, and peas all together from start to finish. That’s with stopping to chat along the way.
So, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, then add in 1 small shallot, minced, and stir it while it cooks until softened. Add 1 garlic clove, minced, and cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add in 3 cups frozen baby peas (about a standard sized bag from the grocery store), ¼ cup chicken broth, and ¼ teaspoon sugar. (Sugar in peas? Trust me, it’s a small amount, but it really brings out the sweetness in the pea.) Cover the skillet and let everything heat together, about 3-5 minutes or until the peas are bright green. Add in ¼ cup chopped fresh tarragon (mint, if you want to follow the original recipe), 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, 2 teaspoon lemon juice, salt and pepper, and serve them immediately.
Buttery and sweet, with just a hint of acid from the lemon juice and an extra bit of sweetness from the tarragon – you will also find yourself unreasonably excited about peas.