Fresh peas are one of my favourite vegetables. The best way to eat them, as far as I’m concerned, is straight off the vine while you’re standing by the plant. If you get them small enough, raw peas taste sweet and nutty and don’t even need to be cooked. As they get a little bigger, cooking takes away the bitter taste that they can sometimes have. I bought these peas recently as my vines have already given me everything they’ve got. The screaming hot weather was too much for them, and they collapsed in a heap at the beginning of Summer. The market ones were still excellent, but I decided that they needed to be cooked. I modified a wonderful recipe that I found in one of my La Repubblica cookbooks that mixes the peas in with pancetta (bacon) and toasted pine-nuts.
When I was a kid, my favourite way to eat peas was to drown them in ketchup and then pile mashed potato on top of them and eat it all in one big messy mouthful. I had ketchup with just about everything then. So much of it, that it probably counted as one of my food groups. It’s a vegetable……right? Once I grew up and stopped spraying ketchup around like water, I had kids who didn’t really want to eat vegetables that much. My sister helped me to get my two boys to eat peas when they were toddlers by suggesting I give them frozen peas straight out of the freezer. Somehow, they taste even better that way; almost like tiny green ice-creams. Both my kids loved eating them like that, and still eat them frozen sometimes, even though they’re both wandering through their pre-teen times now. They skipped the ketchup phase, so I discovered that it’s not genetic.
Adding the toasted pin-nuts to the peas makes them so much more interesting than just boiling the peas and throwing them on a plate as a last-minute side because you should eat something green. It really makes a difference to toast the pine-nuts, so take the 2 minutes extra to do it. Be very careful though, as they burn very easily. Stir them constantly when they’re cooking and don’t leave them in the pan once they’re browned, even with the heat off.
Travel Photo Of The Week
This stunning beach in the photo below is called Arthur Bay. Last year we stopped by in Queensland, Australia to do a little sightseeing and get some sunshine after spending a few wintery weeks in New Zealand. My absolute favourite part of our visit was going to Magnetic Island, where this beach is. As you can see, the place was almost deserted as it was winter there at the time. The temperatures were around 26 degrees C (80 F) and the water was warm enough to swim in. I love winters like that! The best part about winter in Queensland is that there are no jellyfish. In the summer, if you want to go in the sea, you need a special suit that covers you from head to toe and looks remarkably like a large condom, or you have to swim inside designated areas on the beaches that are protected by “stinger nets”. In the colder months, the jellyfish drift off to harass people in warmer parts of the ocean. At Arthur Bay, there was a coral reef close into shore, so we spent happy hours snorkling and gazing at all the colourful fish and corals, and of course, not picking up any shells. Rule number 1, so we were told in the Townsville Aquarium, is NEVER pick up shells. There are tiny molluscs called Cone-shells who live in the shallow waters along the coast which will kill you with their sting in a few seconds. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
By Lisa Watson
- 300 g shelled or frozen Peas
- 40 g Bacon
- 2 Spring Onions
- 30 g Pine-nuts
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 tsp Butter
- 1 tsp Salt
- to taste Pepper
- 2 Tbsp White Wine
- 1 Tbsp Parsley
- Shell the peas. Mince the white and green parts of the spring onions. Cut the bacon into small pieces.
- Heat the olive oil and 1 tsp of butter in a frying pan on a medium heat. Add the green onions and bacon and saute them, stirring until the bacon starts to brown slightly.
- Add the peas and cook, stirring often, for 8-10 minutes.
- While the peas are cooking, add the second teaspoon of butter to a small pan. Saute the pine-nuts for 2 – 3 minutes until they are browned. Stir them constantly, as they burn easily. Drain them on a paper kitchen-towel.
- Add wine, salt and pepper to the peas and stir.
- Take the peas off the heat and stir in the pine-nuts.
- Chop the parsley finely and sprinkle over the peas.
- This dish can be eaten hot or at room temperature.