Sunday, April 5, 2009

princess pea salad…

I must be like the princess that felt the pea though seven mattresses…sensitive and sweet.

In my last post, I promised that I would share my recipe for spring-green pea salad. I also wanted to share a few tips I have picked up over the years about choosing peas when you purchase them at you local market or mega-mart and how to store them for your edible longevity when you get yor tasty delights back home.


When I purchase fresh peas, I look for ones whose pods are firm, velvety and smooth. Their color should be a lively medium green. Those whose green color is especially light or dark, or those that are yellow, whitish or are speckled with gray, should be avoided.

Also, do not choose pods that are puffy, water soaked or have mildew residue. The pods should contain peas of sufficient number and size that there is not much empty room in the pod.

You can tell this by gently shaking the pod and noticing whether there is a slight rattling sound. All varieties of fresh peas should be displayed in a refrigerated case since heat will hasten the conversion of their sugar content into starch.

Unlike the rounded pods of garden or snap peas, the pods of snow peas are flat. You should be able to see the shape of the peas through the non-opaque shiny pod. I choose smaller ones as they tend to be sweeter.

To test the quality of snap peas, snap one open and see whether it is crisp. They should be bright green in color, firm and plump.

Garden peas are generally available from spring through the beginning of winter. Snow peas can usually be found throughout the year in Asian markets and from spring through the beginning of winter in supermarkets. Snap peas are more limited in their availability. They are generally available from late spring through early summer.

If you will not be using fresh peas on the day of purchase, which is the best way to enjoy them, you should refrigerate them as quickly as possible in order to preserve their sugar content, preventing it from turning into starch. The unwashed, unshelled peas stored in the refrigerator in a bag or unsealed container will keep for several days. Fresh peas can also be blanched for one or two minutes and then frozen.


princess pea salad

ingredients

organic pea shoots, a hand full or more depending on the size of your bowl or your appetite (I purchased my fresh pea shoots at a local market, but I have seen nice shoots at Trader Joe’s.)

about a dozen fresh snap peas shelled (reserve the shells )

six or more fresh snap peas, strings removed and cut into about fourths, width wise

six or more snow peas, strings removed and cut into about fourths, length-wise

a sprinkling of coarse salt and fresh and coarsely ground black, red, white, pink and green peppercorns to taste (This adds a fresh salty spiciness and a different textural crunch.)

your favorite salad dressing (I used aged Balsamic Vinegar, reduced to a syrupy consistency, but use what you love very sparingly.)

directions

This salad works better as individual servings as the pea shoots are so delicate.

Fill individual bowls with pea shoots to cover the bottom of the bowl.

Shell the fresh snap peas and reserve the fresh peas.

Chiffonade the shells from the snap peas you have shelled very finely.

Cut the remaining snap and snow peas into bite size pieces.

Add all the chopped and chiffonade pea pods and to the salad and top with the delicate and sweet shelled peas.

Dress VERY lightly with your favorite dressing.
I used aged Balsamic glaze drizzled lightly over these fresh peas and greens.

This salad sounds as simple as it is, but the varying degrees of crunch and textures come from the way the different peas shelled and cut and place atop the pea shoots come together in your mouth...mmm...
that taste of spring that we have been waiting for all this long einter.

I love that this salad, although all the components come from peas, it has layers of textures and sweet flavors, along with the crunch from the sea salt and ground pepper and the sweet-sour zest of the aged reduced Balsamico.

I have made this as a side-salad and also served it as a complete meal adding some of my favorite proteins (seared tuna or chicken breast).
Either way you try it, this salad is all that I said that it was in my previous post.
It embodies all that you would expect that Spring would be like in you mouth, crunchy, sweet, green, succulent and fresh...

Enjoy the spring sweetness...

5 comments:

chez aurora said...

An inspiring post on the lovely spring pea! I love your tips for finding the cream of the crop. It sounds like you have a real expertise in spotting them!

Our farmer's markets don't open in this area until June, so I must rely on what's in the mega-mart, and they rarely have fresh garden peas, so it's nice to enjoy your beautiful photos here! I will say that as you mentioned, TJ's pea shoots were delicious in a salad!

Bon chance with your garden peas ... I planted some sugar snap peas outside as well!

xo
Barbara

jeanette, mistress of longears said...

Now I regret not buying snap pea seeds this year...I'v been sulking ever since the year the RABBITS ate all my peas!

Mel @ bouchonfor2.com said...

I love how springy and fresh this looks. I wish I could get fresh peas all year round.

I'm glad I found your blog :) You gave me something new to follow. I look forward to future posts!

Love, Mel at bouchonfor2.com

feasting-on-pixels (terrie) said...

Merci beaucoup Barbara...I am so pleased that you liked this post.
I am watching my peas as well and so far haven't seen a peep through the soil.
But it is cold and rainy here, so I wouldn't pop my head out of the warm ground either.
Will blog when I see a sprout.

So sorry Jeanette...I do so feel your pain...on Easter I saw a rabbit eat 2 whole tulips in my garden...grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...
I was livid...! ! !

Meric mille fois Mel, for your first visit and lovely compliments and comments on my blog.
I am happy that you have found my blog and I just love yours, as well...

Camera Crazy said...

Had to go back and look at that flawless image of the pea pod--you continue to amaze. I don't even like peas but you could almost convince me!