I dream of peas. This is not a dream that everyone shares, I realize, but for those of us who like to follow the seasons with our cooking — and especially for those of us whose diet is made up primarily of vegetables — peas are synonymous with June.
This year, though, after a long winter and cold spring, they’re coming around pretty slowly. I’m growing them — or trying, anyway — in my little front-yard garden, but half of the vines seem stunted. And there are so few plants crammed into one side of one of my raised beds that when I made the first pass in a harvest attempt just last week, I was rewarded with a mere handful. I zipped open the pods and ate them out of hand — super sweet — before I even made it back into the house. Peas have started showing up in farmer’s markets, where they tend to go quickly — and cost plenty.
For those reasons and more, I know I should probably use them sparingly, but I can’t. So now’s the time I have no qualms about also buying them frozen at the supermarket. Much like canned tomatoes, frozen peas have been preserved at the peak of their flavor.
The past year or two, I’ve made a habit of pureeing them with yogurt and a little mint for a cold soup. I like holding out some of the peas and mashing them with a little feta, then spreading them on toast for dunking in the liquid. This year, I’m taking those flavors and applying them to a different starch: pasta. Peas, feta and mint become a pesto of sorts, and I toss it with farfalle, whose bow-tie shape helps the sauce nestle into nooks and crannies. On top, I sprinkle pine nuts, keeping one of the components of pesto in the mix without losing the nut’s crunch.
Although most of the peas go into the sauce, I reserve a cup or so to leave whole, adding bright punches of color and flavor.
Maybe one day this month, if I can restrain myself long enough, at least some of my own peas can go in the dish, too.
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