Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Polish Pea Power
Before I met my husband Dan, he had never tried fresh garlic, just the powdery stuff and he returned the favor by introducing me to fresh peas. His family haunted the local farmstand for the brief pea-picking season in early summer and would bring home pounds of peas to steam up on the stove and then serve by the plateful, adorned with just a pat of butter. These "Polish Peas" (we are Jagareskis, after all) are still a favorite one generation later with our family.
If you grow peas yourself, even the bush varieties can stand a bit of support. We experimented with tomato cages this year, which have even toppled with the weight of these leggy legumes, so we must resort to sturdier supports next year. We pick and wash the peas still in their pods, string them, and then have a pot with a simmering couple of inches of lightly salted water ready for them to be steamed until tender (5-10 minutes depending on how fat the peas are, but they will turn from pea green to an avocado color. Then you just put them in serving bowls with a little butter and maybe a short shake of salt and pepper and then just pop each pod into your mouth, with your lips covering your teeth and gum the tender peas out. We have a communal pot in the middle to toss empty pods into. Simple, rustic eating at its best. Fresh peas are simply a different vegetable than the wrinkly, starchy things in your grocer's freezer or the swollen, mushy things that reside in tin cans.
It has been a string of hazy, hot days here in upstate New York, so yesterday we experimented with microwaving the peas instead of using the stove and that worked beautifully, with the pods retaining more of their brilliant green color. We placed one cup of pea pods in a microwaveable plastic container and zapped them on high power for 3 minutes. Then we stirred them around and then zapped them on high again for an additional 2 minutes.
Polish Pea Power. Try it on for size.