When we were a young family, I raised a great garden every summer in Northern California. One of the crops was peas. If you’ve never grown peas, you have not experienced abundance. Think rabbits. Literally.
The peas grew faster and produced more than we could possibly consume, so the bulk of them were fed daily to the son and the daughter’s rabbits. When each of them – the children – was five years old, I got them a baby bunny from a friend who raised them. They came to us about five inches long, and ended up as huge creatures much larger than our cats. Who they loved to chase when they escaped from their cage, a gorgeous two-story structure that my husband built for them, complete with storage space for a bale of hay in the “basement.”
I digress. The other day I was over at our brand new Lucky’s Market. Never has a grocery store been better named. We feel extraordinarily fortunate that it has come to our city. Its produce department about brings me to my knees every time I walk into it.
At any rate, as I cased the joint, I came across a bin of English peas. In their pods! I instantly thought of the two dwarf bunnies of my own (sisters, Pearl is all black with a white spot between her eyes, and Panda, black and white like as, well, you know) and how they would love the hulls once I’d split and emptied them so as to prepare something for dinner.
Something fast because this week, as Bevi says, is like a march to the salt mines. Wearing a blindfold.
Here’s the something.
ORECHIETTE WITH FRESH PEAS, LEMON, AND GREEK YOGURT
Serves 2, or 1 with lucky-you leftovers
A common version of this is made with cream. I’m looking for something a little lighter, and lemon brings the yogurt and peas together in a divine trinity.
1/2 pound orechiette
2 ounces olive oil
12 ounces of English peas in the pod
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
8 ounces Greek-style yogurt
Sea or kosher salt and pepper to taste
Fresh chives for garnish
This comes together fast, so get all your tools and ingredients together from the start.
1. Set a pot of water on to boil to cook the pasta. For a quick primer on how much water and how much salt to add to it, take a look here.
2. Hull the peas. If you have rabbits or chickens, feed the hulls to some happy creatures. Alternatively, add them to the trimmings and stems in your stock bag and let them flavor a fragrant batch of vegetable stock at the end of the week. Last ditch: compost them!
My 12-ounce bag of pea pods yielded about a cup of little green beauties.
3. Why orechiette? Italian for “little ears,” they’re not much larger than the peas, with a lovely little indentation that will cradle them so gently. Because this week is, have I mentioned, a march to the salt mines. I need gentleness wherever I can find it.
4. Once the pasta water has come to a boil, add the orechiette. I am partial to those made by DeCecco*, which cook true to package directions, yielding the perfect combination of tenderness and al dente “toothiness.” They have a cook time of about 10 minutes. Set a timer for two minutes less than the cook time on the package. After 3 minutes have elapsed, over medium heat, warm the olive oil in a skillet or other pot large enough to contain the pasta as well. Add the peas. They’re spattery, so cover the pot to control the mess and also steam them in their own juices. Just before the timer goes off, add the garlic to the peas and sauté it until fragrant. When the timer sounds, scoop a ladle of pasta water into the pot containing the peas. Drain the pasta through a colander. Once drained, add it to the peas. Stir in the Greek yogurt and lemon juice. Allow it all to cook for 2 more minutes. Taste it, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
* CeCecco does not furnish me with products, nor do they compensate me in any way.
6. Spoon the pasta into bowls. Shave some Parmesan over the top. I hope you have a pot of chives growing on the windowsill. Cut some, and use scissors to snip them over the bowls. Taste the symphony.