Sunday, June 14, 2015

Fresh Mushy Peas

Mushy peas garnished with chives
Try a Chive Blossom Garnish

Recipe adapted from Victoria Magazine

Mushy peas don’t sound like something that most Californians would like. But my husband and I were pleasantly surprised by this classic British side dish while visiting the Isles last year. The Brits reconstitute and cook dried peas with minced onion and plenty of butter. I wanted to  use fresh peas rather than dried, and Victoria Magazine had the same idea. Using their recipe as a starting point, I added extra herbs from the garden. It's lighter in color and texture than the dried pea version and highlights the sweet delicate flavor of fresh peas. This could become a springtime habit. Try it with the last of this year’s English pea harvest.

Saucepan of Cooked Peas with Herbs on Top
Add the Herbs, then Mash Peas
English peas are available in farmers’ markets and stores in their shells. To calculate how many pounds to buy, first check out the size and shape of the pods. Choose the fattest pods, with the rounded bumps, then evaluate. Are most of the pods large and bumpy, or are they thinner? Or is it a mixed lot? (If they’re pre-packaged by the farmer, they’re probably the latter.) Use this information to estimate the amount of shelled peas, allowing 2½ - 4 times the purchase weight to calculate the shelled weight. For example, if the pods seem weighty and fat, buy 2½ times what you need. If they’re thin, try 4 times. It’s likely that your estimate won’t be exactly right, but you can adjust the quantity of the other ingredients based upon their actual weight.

The only fixed ingredient in this recipe is the proportion of broth to peas. Seasonings may be adjusted to your taste or what you have on hand. My husband and I prefer a lot of mint, and we have plenty in the garden, so this recipe is “kindly minty.” If you prefer less mint, reduce it by up to half.

Closeup of Fresh Mushy Peas
British-Californian Comfort Food
Fresh Mushy Peas
serves 2 – 3

2 tbsp. butter
1/3 cup minced shallot (1 small)
¾ lb. shelled English peas (~2 lbs unshelled)
¾ cup chicken or veggie broth
¼ cup chopped mint
2½ tbsp. snipped chives
¼ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. or more fresh ground pepper
extra chives and mint, optional garnish

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat. Add minced shallot and sauté until tender and golden, stirring often, about 4 – 5 minutes. Add peas, stirring to coat with shallots. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add broth. Bring to boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until peas are soft.

Remove from heat and stir in mint and chives. Mash peas with back of spoon or potato masher. If you prefer that the peas be completely smooth textured, use an immersion blender. Stir in salt and pepper.

Serve immediately, garnished with additional mint and chives if desired.

Using Potato Masher on Peas in Saucepan
Mash Peas to Your Liking
Bowl of Fresh Mushy Peas
Fresh, Delicious, and Nutritious

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