Fresh Peas with Bacon and Shallots
I know what you’re thinking. “Why would you write a blog post on peas?” Because there is very short window where peas need to have their moment to shine and it is NOW! They are naturally sweet but adding a little bacon and shallots simply gilds the lily.
Now, you may have noticed my slant is definitely toward Paleo eating. I do tend to lean that way, of course, but vear ever so slightly when it comes to vegetables, specifically green legumes (and now that I’m thinking about it, peanuts that are organic and Valencia variety) to which I’m a little more open because they are not as harmful as say, dried kidney beans.* I rarely eat peas at all, but fresh peas are usually a once or twice a year treat and only in Spring when they are fresh off the vine and grown as close to my back yard as possible.
I have tried growing a garden, but have failed mostly due to a busy summer travel baseball with my son, so I have decided for now, to support my local farmers instead of growing myself. A couple of weeks ago after reading in my farmer’s market newsletter that someone would have English Peas, I went on a hunt that returned void but I did find the farmer. He had sold out! 😥 But, as I have mentioned before, when you develop relationships with those who grow your food, they will always help you out.
This sweet farmer gave me his business card and told me to text him on Friday to see if he would have any at this past weekend’s market. I did and he did! It turns out he wasn’t going to be there, BUT he was extremely kind and dropped them off on his way out of town to another farmer from whom I regularly buy. See, get to know your farmers and it works out very well!
If you haven't taken the time to buy fresh peas from a local farmer, you're missing one of nature's sweetest treats.
I had grown up on canned peas (which never crossed my lips because they are disgusting) and then found frozen peas when I became the cook. But they were never a side dish (usually an ingredient in a stew or casserole) and definitely would not have been considered for a stand alone menu order.
Then one day we were at a restaurant in NYC with a menu that highlighted market fresh produce and as part of the antipasti menu, I saw Peas and Pancetta. I couldn't really imagine them being that different, but pork products sell me on many things so we ordered them along with several other antipasti.
The unexpected surprise was how sweet and not mushy these peas were. They were like little sweet spheres that almost popped when you bit down on them because they were so fresh. The starch hadn't developed yet (I learned later when I bought some back at home that weren't so fresh) so that is why you don't get the chalkiness of older fresh and frozen peas or the mushy character you find in canned ones.
Go to your farmers market this week and buy a bag or two, make this super simple side of Fresh Peas with Bacon and Shallots and see for yourself. Then let me know what you think.
Fresh Peas with Bacon and Shallots
The real joy of the peas is how shelling them makes you slow down for a few minutes. Serve with a thinly sliced fennel and torn green salad and grilled or roasted meat and you have a complete spring meal.
2 lbs fresh peas, shelled (about 2 cups)
3 ounces bacon, chopped (3-4 slices)
1 shallot, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 lemon, juiced
Saute the chopped bacon until it is crispy. Leave all the fat in the pan and add a big drizzle of olive oil. Saute the shallots and garlic for one minute then add the peas and stir to coat with the shallot and garlic infused fat. Let cook for only 2-3 minutes then sprinkle with salt and squeeze in lemon juice. Serve immediately.
Saute a handful of chopped of bacon (2-3 slices) then add sliced garlic, finely chopped shallots and the peas. Cook for 2-3 minutes max. Seriously. No more. A squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt to balance out the porkiness and you are on your way to a super simple side to grilled fish or meat or even a storebought rotisserie chicken.
* See this article by Mark Hyman as to why.