Spring dinner with peas, onions, lettuce

Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Jamie Oliver's recipe for Incredible Smashed Peas and Broad Beans on Toast was the inspiration for Saturday night's supper. We wanted to prepare a meal that featured the first gleanings of our pea crop and other now-abundant garden offerings: onions and lettuce.

We don't have any broad beans (a.k.a., fava beans), but we were able to harvest the season's first few handfuls of shelling peas.

Michael bashed up the fresh (uncooked) peas with a mortar and pestle, adding fresh mint, lemon, cheese, salt and pepper. The mash went over garlic-rubbed toasts, with mozzarella cheese on top and a final flourish of pea shoots. It was refreshing and light, and the combination of flavors was something a little different than we've ever had before. We'd never made a dish with raw peas. The recipe can be found in Oliver's beautiful cookbook, Jamie at Home, which contains a whole slew of recipes inspired by the seasons in the chef's own very-gorgeous-I'm-envious-of-it garden.

Our version of Jamie Oliver's fresh pea mash on toast

For dish #2, I picked a bunch of onions and tried to make a go of Alice Waters' Onion Tart recipe from The Art of Simple Food.

I'm not sure what-on-Earth onions I've got here. These are the progeny of pass-along onions I got during my days at the community garden. There are some reds and some yellows in there. None of them bulb up for me, no matter how long I leave them in the ground. Still, it's nice to have a steady supply of whatever they are. This bunch was crowding out the asparagus plants, so it was time for them to hit the cutting board.

I sliced up at least six cups worth and would have cried the seven seas in the process had I not been saved by our trusty pair of onion goggles. This was a heavy-duty job and I needed equipment!

I cooked the onions with fresh thyme for about 30 minutes. Along the way, as I was tasting and testing, I had an unfortunate "uh-oh" moment. I realized that I shouldn't have used the green stalks of the onions. Early in the season, the green parts were soft enough to use like scallions, but now, when the onions are producing their bulblets, the stalks are really tough. Even with 30 minutes of cooking they were too fibrous for eating. I ended up sorting through and picking them all out. It was a lot of extra work, but after I had come so far with all that goggle-donned onion slicing, I was determined to make something good of this dish.

No! Don't use the stalks!

Ultimately it turned out fine. Smooth onion shavings piled inside a delicious buttery crust. We thought it was really good, in fact, and called it a definite keeper for times of onion abundance.

We completed our spring meal with dish #3, a simple salad of mixed greens buttoned up with a basic vinaigrette. We've been eating plenty of salads lately. I'm hoping to keep the momentum going as we get into the hot-weather months. I've been sowing succession plantings of lettuce seed for the past several weeks. We'll see how far it gets us.

Spring Meal of Three Garden Things

Coming up: Swiss chard, beets, and garlic scapes. What, besides pesto, can we make with our scapes?


Blogger Alexandria Sewell said...

Delicious looking food photos! I'm wishing I could partake in such fresh eats. I am looking forward to what else you are going to harvest. My compliments to the chef and gardeners!

10:45 PM  
Blogger Siren said...

Thank you for posting the smashed pea recipe! I am hoping I at least get a pea crop before it gets too hot because I really want to recreate this now!

10:46 PM  
Blogger Lisa Carroll-Lee said...

Mmmm...that pea recipe looks fantastic. I love finding new ways to add raw veggies to my table.

12:09 AM  
Blogger Pageturners said...

Delicious! The onions look like what the French call 'ciboules'.

10:48 AM  
Blogger Jo said...

They all look delicious. I'm still waiting for my peas to crop here.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Wisdom for Today said...

I never knew you could eat pea shoots, do you have to blanch them. I thought they would be stringy and tough. I think I would like to try this with my chive blossoms sprinkled on top. Sounds scrumptious! Love the blog - Eliz

4:57 PM  
Anonymous daniela said...

oh my, this is all so inspiring! must try the smashed peas....thank you!

11:58 PM  
Anonymous Liz said...

This all looks delicious! I love having a look at what other people are cooking!

6:53 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oh, Beautiful! And, if you're interested in growing favas sometime, hit me up for seeds.

1:17 AM  
Blogger Kristi said...

Wow what a great evening. It all looks so gourmet.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Danielle said...

Looks awesome!!! I love having a steady supply of onions in my garden too, fresh onions in any dish always makes everything taste better.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Botacook said...

This meal is definitely made for me. I love this kind of simple, fresh and healthy meals. In addition, your photos are gorgeous!

9:59 AM  
Blogger Rosemarie said...

I'll be over for dinner -- that was the best looking food I have seen in a long time - mouth watering!

5:49 PM  
Blogger Robbyn said...

Do you have a recipe for the lovely buttery crust?

4:15 AM  
Blogger Christa said...

I used the pate sucree (sweet tart dough) recipe from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food. Any sweet tart dough should work for this. Don't skimp on the butter. :-)

6:54 PM  

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