Here's my April column from the Petaluma Post:
The brightest season of the year is upon us, when you think
of green what do you think of? Trees in
bud? The rolling hills? Spring flowers? A chef thinks of all of the fresh young
produce that is beginning to hit the markets. Peas, asparagus, spring onions, green garlic,
artichokes, tender frilled mustard, the first peek of what is to come.
I love peas! I have been known after a long day to sit down
with just a bowl of peas with a bit of butter; sometimes the simple things are
the best. But which peas to choose and
did you know you can eat the plant too? Pea tendrils are often used in Asian
cuisine. Snow peas, snap peas, English
peas. Snow peas are thin and flat with
the interior seed undeveloped, you will often find them in Asian cuisine and they
are a great addition to salads. Snap
peas are the midway point, well developed seeds but the pod is tender enough
for cooking. This pea is great sautéed or
raw, very popular on veggies trays.
English peas are the classic pea that you would get frozen in your local
grocery. The shell is not edible and
only the seeds are edible, thus the term shelling.
Sautéed Pea Tendrils
with Shitakes and Garlic
8 oz shitake mushrooms, sliced
2 bunches pea tendrils – the youngest you can find- chop
bunches into thirds
3 cloves garlic chopped
4 Tbl vegetable oil
2 Tbl light soy
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Make sure the skillet is about twice as big
as you think you need. Sauté the garlic,
being careful not to burn it. Then add
the mushrooms and continue to sauté, adding additional oil if necessary. When tender, then add the pea sprouts. Turn once or twice with tongs. Add the soy sauce and cover to steam 2 to 3
minutes. This is a great side dish with
miso glazed salmon. See my 1/12/2012 blog for the salmon recipe.
Peas pair great with fresh mint, the sweetness of the peas
is a classic combination. A simple salad
of snap peas with mint and carrot is a great dish to add to the Easter menu.
Snap Pea Salad with
2 lbs snap peas - look for the string less variety or you
will need to string each pea
1 lbs julienned carrots- you can also find these prepared in
your grocers case
2 stems fresh mint
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbl champagne vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Lightly blanch the carrots and snap peas for 3 to 5 minutes,
then ice to chill to stop the carry over cooking. Combine oil, vinegar, salt and pepper into a
light dressing. Just before serving
shred the mint, and combine all the ingredients. Serve immediately.
Green garlic is another spring joy. The young tender sprouts from garlic often
pulled when thinning plant for greater productions. It has the same flavor but not as spicy and
pungent, it looks much like green onions. When cutting and preparing use the same
techniques as leeks, cutting from the white up into the green as long as it is
tender, wash very well for sand. It is a
great flavor for soups.
Potato Bacon Green
3 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 cup green garlic, thinly sliced
2 strips bacon, diced
2 Tbl olive oil
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
½ cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Place oil, garlic and bacon in to a heavy bottom pot, and
sauté till the bacon is crisp and the garlic is translucent, browning is ok but
be careful not to burn. Add potatoes,
cover with stock and bring to a simmer.
Cook uncovered till the potatoes begin to fall apart. Then puree with a hand blender. Return to stove, add heavy cream and season
There is nothing that ushers in Spring like the thin crisp
spears of asparagus, the queen of spring.
A favorite on the Easter table in my family. With its delicate flavor and taste it is a
great pairing with eggs. A simple breakfast
frittata is one of my favorites
½ cup chopped asparagus tips (also a great use for left
½ cup crumbled Chèvre
2 Tbl olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper
Place the eggs, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well,
being careful not to incorporate too much air.
Stir in the Chèvre. Heat an 8”
sautéed pan on the stove till hot, add oil, swirl to coat, then add the egg
mixture. Using a rubber spatula stir
gently just around the edges. As it be
gins to set, turn off the heat, top with asparagus, and place in a 350 degree
oven for 4 to 7 minutes, till set. A great
quick breakfast or serve with a salad for lunch.