More Peas Please!

The flavors and smells of Spring take me back to my childhood more than any other season.  My mom pinned our bed sheets out to dry on an outdoor clothesline all year long, but in Spring everything went on the line — clothes, towels, sheets.Once a week when we had clean sheets, she’d tuck me in and I would say “I smell the clean coverly sheets.”  I don’t know why I called them “coverly” but it was a comforting, cozy word that felt right when I pulled the sheets over my nose so I could smell that fresh, clean, sunshin-ey smell.

Last week I hoarded pounds of English peas and fava beans at the farmer’s market and cooked them up for a pasta dish, and when I was shelling the peas, man the smell of them took me right back to about 7 years old.  Fresh peas smell and taste so delightfully clean, fresh, green, and sunshine-y sweet  . . . . they are nothing like their frozen, boiled, or canned counterparts.  I barely need them cooked.

At family holiday gatherings when peas are served, my husband has always told us, “I don’t like peas.”  So we don’t give him any.  Then I made this pasta.  It’s angel hair pasta tossed in a ricotta enhanced basil pesto, on a giant bed of basil, mint and dill, tossed with fresh peas, fava beans, toasted pine nuts, and a scoop of fresh ricotta.

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And I made him smell the peas before I cooked them.

As he was eating his bowl of pasta, he said, “Sue, really . . . what kind of peas ARE THESE?  I am inhaling them!  They are so good.  I am going to the farmer’s market on Saturday and getting more.  Can we just keep eating these every day until they are out of season?  Can you just keep making this over and over?”

Here’s the Recipe:

Ingredients:

Pesto:

1 cup fresh ricotta (if you use normal store-bought ricotta, drain in cheesecloth over a strainer for 1 hour).  You need firm ricotta so that the sauce is not watery.

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1 cup tightly packed basil leaves

juice of half a lemon

1 tsp salt and pepper

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Optional:  2 anchovies

Pasta:

1 lb. fresh (optimal but optional, you can of course use dried pasta) angel hair pasta

1/2 lb fresh English peas, shelled and blanched for 1 minute then shocked in ice water

1 lb fresh fava beans, shelled, peeled and blanched for 1 minute then shocked in ice water

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese

4 Tbsp toasted pine nuts

2 heaping Tbsp. fresh ricotta cheese

1 cup mixed torn fresh basil, dill and mint

Make the Pesto:

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

Make Pasta:

Drop pasta into rapidly boiling water until cooked to your liking; drain pasta leaving a bit of cooking water in sauce pan.  Drop butter into sauce pan.  Return pasta to sauce pan and pour pesto over.  Combine over low heat, add peas and fava beans and toss.
Place 1/2 cup bed of mixed herbs into each bowl.  Pour pasta into 2 bowls and grate over each bowl 1 tbsp. parmesan.  Top each bowl with 2 tbsp. pine nuts and 1 heaping tbsp. of ricotta.  I like to crack some black pepper on top too.  Eat up while hot!!!

2 Comments on “More Peas Please!

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