Pea Pesto

So our peas have matured and we've enjoyed them lightly steamed and also raw in salads.

The pea shoots are edible, and we had lots of them.

The thought occured to me that perhaps they might make a decent pesto.

I hacked away at the plants and brought in a big bowlful. I rinsed them out-- I'm sure there was a bit of dog pee on them (thanks, Django), and pulled the leaves from the tough stems.

I steamed the stems to make a weak pea stock, then blanched the leaves in the hot water for a few seconds.

I scooped out the leaves and squeezed out much of the moisture, then put them in the food processor with a good pinch of salt, some pepper, and some of the stock, and gave it a good whirl. It produced a satisfying green, pea-flavored puree.

Not really a pesto, of course: no garlic, no nuts, no cheese.

But when you take a good tablespoon of it, and slowly blend in some good homemade vinagraitte, it makes a wonderful salad dressing.

The New Summer Salad:

To a bowl of cleaned, mixed greens, add a handful of chopped feta cheese, some shelled, raw peas, and the afforementioned pea vinagraitte. Stir, portion, eat.

Other uses? I bet it'd go well with some sauteed scallops. Pasta is a given. Swirled into vegetable soup. What else? Any ideas? Anyone? Bueller?


More Easy Indian

Lentils (Dal)

1. Make a spice mixture. I used the same one as my previous post on Chicken Saag. In fact, it's pretty much the only curry/garam masala mix I make: pulverize some cardomom seeds, add (in decreasing amounts) cumin, smoked paprika, tumeric, then bits of cayenne, nutmeg, cinnamon: whatever you have in your cupboard.

2. Saute some finely diced vegetables: carrots first, because they take the longest; red pepper, shallots, and the, at last, just til they release their pungent bouquet, lots of garlic and shredded ginger.

3. Add the spice mixture and stir to coat veggies.

4. Add a cup of small lentils and stir.

5. Add some chicken stock (or water) and S and P. Cover and simmer until the lentils are very tender. I used about two cups of stock. If you want it soupier, use more.

6. Serve with basmati rice, with a dollop of yogurt.

This would be greatly improved with the addition of cream and/or butter. Swap out the lentils for garbanzo beans, and add more stock and some cooked chicken and/or lamb and you have the wonderful Moroccan soup Harira.


Chicken Saag

I have an abundance of spinach so I'm going to attempt to make a favorite Indian dish for lunch, saag (which, I imagine, translates as "spinach.") As I have a leftover grilled chicken breast too, that'll go in. However I really prefer saag with lamb or fresh cheese.

Here, after a careful 10 minute on-line review, is what I'll do:

1. Saute some chopped onion til lightly browned in vegetable oil. Add some chopped garlic and minced ginger.

2. Steam lots of spinach til wilted, transer to blender or food processor and puree the hell out of it. Season with S and P.

3. Make a spice blend: cumin, tumeric, crushed cardomom seeds, smoked paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne. Add to sauteed vegetables and saute 'til fragrant.

4. Add chopped chicken (or cooked lamb, or tofu, or fresh cheese). Saute to coat with spices.

5. Add spinach puree. Check seasonings. Add butter, cream, milk or yogurt.

6. Eat.