Occasionally, I find fresh peas at our farmer’s market. And I pay for them. They’re not cheap. But there is something rhythmic about shelling peas. There is an anticipation that these peas will taste so much better than what I get at the grocery store because they are so fresh! I imagine all sorts of incarnations for them. I put effort into spotlighting them in my dishes. And I’m always disappointed.
Why? Well, first, the peas are typically not uniform in size. In one pod, I’ll find peas that are miniature pea-lings right next to others that are full-grown. Weird. I mean they’re in the same pod.
Also, the yield is paltry. I’ve paid $5 for a lunch bag full of pea pods which only yields about 1 cup of shelled peas. And lastly, they tend to be tough. Not all, but some. And the point of having a straight from the market “pea experience” is to have the freshest, most flavorful, pop-in-your-mouth reward.
After having bought the farmer’s market peas for two years, trying every manner of preparing them and being constantly disappointed, I waved the white flag. I surrender. And I’m happier for it. There are certain convenience foods that make sense. Frozen peas are one of them.
They’ve been picked, blanched and packaged at their peak. The manufacturers must put them through a sorting facility, because I’ve never seen a pea-ling in any carton or bag I’ve ever bought. And let’s not forget – they are available year round and cost about $2.50/lb. Sold.
I’m not eschewing all produce from the farmer’s market, certainly not. In fact, the fresh tarragon and thyme as well as the shallots, mushrooms and lemon came from our local green market.
They work very well together in this simple side dish.
A simple recipe to dress up ordinary frozen peas. Make it in 15 minutes!
- 1 14- oz package frozen peas
- 2 medium shallots thinly sliced crosswise
- 1/2 pound baby bella mushrooms stemmed and sliced
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth white wine or water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon tarragon chopped
- 1 teaspoon thyme chopped
- 1 lemon zested
- 1 tablespoon butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-low heat. Add shallots and cook 3-5 minutes until softened and slightly translucent. Do not brown.
- Transfer shallots to a small bowl.
- Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and increase heat to medium high. Add mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are browned and have given off their liquid, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to the shallot bowl.
- Return pan to heat and add frozen peas and broth (or whichever liquid you're using). Heat over medium high heat, until broth boils and peas are heated through. Remove peas from heat and stir in the shallots and mushrooms to combine. Add the tarragon and thyme, butter and about 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest. Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more lemon zest if you like. Serve.
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