Posts filed under ‘peas’

It’s hot …

Marionberries and blueberries… and cooking is the last thing on my mind.

Thank heavens for the farmers’ market, and for that magic moment at the height of summer when all the berries converge.

On Saturday, our market still had strawberries – last of the crop, according to the vendor who had sold out by 11. Raspberries were everywhere, the first fat blueberries had arrived, and one vendor even had early Marionberries. Another had ripe, tart red currants, glowing like rubies. I bought some, though I have no idea what to I’ll do with them.

There were also loads of cherries – this seems to be a bumper year for the cherry crop. I bought a bag of those to take to a barbecue, but I saved the berries for myself, and I’ve been eating them by the handful and the bowlful – mostly just as they are, sometimes with a little cream and (in the case of the Marionberries, which haven’t reached their sweet peak yet) a sprinkle of sugar. I did make an easy cobbler with some of the blueberries this morning, heavy on the berries and light on the sugar. That’s breakfast for the next few days.

I’d live on fruit alone right now if I could, but my body has a protein habit. Finding a way to satisfy that with a minimum of kitchen time can be a challenge. Not so this week; the young fisherman who’s been bringing live crab to market also had smoked tuna loins. I threw together a simple rice-and tuna dish that’s a distant cousin to the tuna noodle casseroles I grew up with. You don’t need a recipe for this kind of thing, just a general method.

Last night, after the coastal breezes blew the heat away, I cooked up a pot of brown Basmati rice and put it in the fridge overnight. This evening, I mixed it with some finely diced onion, fresh peas, and about half of the tuna, shredded with my fingers. To boost the smokey flavor, I crumbled up an ounce or so of Rogue Creamery’s Smokey Blue cheese, mixed that in with the tuna and rice. The zest and juice of half a lemon and a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise to keep everything moist, a sprinkle of parmesan and half an hour in a 350 oven and I’ve got dinner (and a couple of days worth of lunch).

These are the kinds of dishes summer calls for: things you can throw together quickly, filling but not heavy, and full of flavor. Not to mention endlessly adaptable. No peas? Dice up some summer squash, or broccoli, or whatever you find at the market. No rice? Use pasta. Trying to watch the fat content? Moisten the casserole with stock instead of mayonnaise.

And then have berries for dessert.

July 5, 2009 at 6:49 pm Leave a comment

Peas and turnips, late-spring style

Baby turnipsA cold, wet May caused setbacks for some local crops: Strawberry growers were struggling, for instance, until the sun came out last week, and some of our usual other late-spring crops have been slow to show up in the markets.

Sugar-snap peas, which love the cool and damp, are an exception: I’ve been buying and eating them weekly, mostly raw (three days last week the lunch I packed to work consisted of a big bag of peas and a dip made from Nancy’s plain yogurt and various dried herbs – yum!). I can’t get enough of these babies.

Speaking of babies: Saturday I got to the market late, but not too late to grab a couple of bunches of baby turnips. Like most “baby” vegetables, these aren’t early versions of regular turnips, they’re a Japanese variety bred for their small size and delicate flavor, and if you’re not fond of big turnips, don’t let that stop you from trying these. No bigger than golf balls, they’re crisp and mild enough to slice and eat raw – but they’re also lovely to cook with. It would be a waste to treat them like their winter cousins, boiled and mashed or thrown in with a pot roast. Like many early-season vegetables, they work best with quick cooking and simple preparations.

I ran across a recipe for baby turnips and peas that sounded delicious, but a little fiddly, what with the blanching and sauteeing. So instead, I combined the vegetables in a quick vegetable roast, and served them alongside smoked pork and home-made apple-and-quince sauce from the freezer. Fabulous.

Baby turnips and sugar-snap peasRoasted Baby Turnips and Sugar-snap Peas

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch baby turnips
  • 1/2 cup whole sugar-snap pea pods
  • 4-5 garlic scapes* (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried herbs (I used a lemon-dill-garlic blend)
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • Sea salt

Preheat oven to 375F.

Trim toff the turnip greens (and save them for another dish!), scrub turnips and pat them dry. Cut larger ones in half so all pieces are roughly the same size. Remove strings from peas if necessary. Cut garlic scape stems in half-inch lengths, leaving the bud and a bit of the curled stem. Toss everything in olive oil and herbs.

Put turnips on a baking sheet, and roast for five minutes. Then add peas and garlic scapes, sprinkle lightly with sea salt, and roast five minutes longer. Toss with lemon zest and serve.

Serves two as a side dish; if you increase the recipe, you probably won’t need more oil.

* Scapes are the flowering buds of plants in the allium family. Hardnecked garlic produces scapes that curl attractively and eventually straighten out to bloom; at the curled stage, they’re a tasty vegetable with a mild garlic flavor. I got mine from my garden, but you can often find them in the market. Try them lightly steamed, or in a stir-fry.

June 15, 2008 at 9:24 pm 2 comments


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