It’s Pea Time

We love fresh peas.   



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And we pay a premium for them.  I can usually get 4 servings, 2 at dinner, 2 at lunch out of about 5 or 6 Euros of unshelled peas.  They are so good.  One of my favs of spring.


So what do we do with all these peas?  Many times I cook them the Julia Child way.  Saw her show Jacques Pepin how to do this on TV.  She said.." shell and wash the peas.  Put a small amount of water in a saucepan.  Add the peas, a knob of butter, a spoon of sugar and a 1/2 t of kosher salt.  Using your hands bruise (her word) the peas by squeezing them with the butter and kosher salt.  Set the pan over medium heat, put a lid on it and cook them for a few minutes.” 


Very tasty that way, but lately I have also adapted a recipe from the April/May edition of Fine Cooking, ‘fresh tortellini with asparagus, peas and mint.’  


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Here is the recipe if you want to try it.  Please note that above I used the word adapted.  The Fine Cooking recipe called for pine nuts and mint both of which I have omitted.  I think the inclusion of both of those ingredients makes the recipe ‘Italian-American’ rather than Italian.  Tuscan cooking tends to be bland, accenting the flavors of the season, the peas and asparagus, rather than flashy with many ingredients.  It would be a stretch for most Tuscans to include garlic and the red pepper flakes.  And the goat cheese would only be used if there were goats on your farm.  A fresh sheep’s milk cheese would be used instead or a cow’s milk ricotta. 

But here is the general idea.

Serves 2


1 clove garlic, minced

¼ C extra virgin olive oil

½ t kosher salt plus salt for pasta cooking water

1/8 t red pepper flakes

2 to 3 ounces of soft (not aged) goat cheese, cut into tablespoon size pieces

½ bunch asparagus, cut in 1” pieces (1/4 to 1/2 of a pound)

½ C shelled fresh peas

½ lb fresh tortellini or small ravioli (any flavor you like)

In a medium size heat proof bowl, combine garlic, oil, salt and red pepper. (alternately if you don’t like raw garlic you can heat the oil and throw the garlic in it for about 30 seconds) Set aside. In another larger heat proof bowl put at least half of the goat cheese in the bottom. Set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a good bit of salt. Cook asparagus and peas just until vegetables lose their rawness. Do not drain pan, instead remove vegetables with a strainer and place in the bowl with the olive oil. Toss. In the same water cook the pasta as the package directs. Remove cooked pasta with a strainer and put in the large bowl with the goat cheese. Toss. Add the vegetables and their oil and the remaining goat cheese. Toss again. The goat cheese will create a creamy sauce. You can add some of the pasta water if you need to.  Serve and enjoy.



I don’t write many recipes because I usually don’t follow them, I just sort of cook.  I can remember standing by my Mother in the kitchen and being in awe of the way she just cooked  and things happened and why couldn’t I do that?????  Why did I have to keep reading the directions?  And she assured me ‘don’t worry, one day you will.’  I guess she was right.


1 Comment

  1. Michael

    Yes Martha, you have become a marvelous cook. I remember you sent me a recipe for some kind of eggplant appetizer which I adored at restaurant Taccarino…only to be disappointed by my version. That is often the case. My aunt made a wonderful chocolate cake and finally sent me the recipe (handwritten). Well even with help from my mother to bake it, mine was a flop. Experience, practice, good food prep methods, utensils, equipment, etc. etc. all make a difference!!

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