Tag Archives: peas

Sweet Pea Falafel with Minted Cucumber Salad

I have a long and interesting history with peas.  As a child, my mother tells me that I once shoved a pea up my nose.  (The other interesting childhood story about me related to the pea homophone, “pee,” is that I once slept walk into the living room thinking that it was the bathroom and proceeded to pee on the coffee table as my parents watched — slack-jawed, no doubt.)  I now realize that kids do some weird stuff and I’m glad to know that I contributed.

And as it happens in life, I have been paid back for my contributions.  My own daughter once projectile vomited peas all over me.  And when I was very pregnant with her brother, she decided to shove a tiny Polly Pocket shoe up her nose, which allowed me to learn a handy first aid trick that my Mom probably could have used.  After trying to get the shoe out by having her blow her nose (she was 4, so every time I said “Blow,” she sniffed it in even further), I called the doctor and got this gem:  when your child decides to shove something up his/her nose (which they will), close the unobstructed nostril with your finger and then cover his/her mouth with your mouth and blow hard — like you are giving them mouth to mouth resuscitation.  The shoe or pea will fly right out of there.  You are welcome in advance.

Hungry yet?

(I wonder if any writer in the history of the world has ever had to make the transition between toy or legume-obstructed nostrils and falafel.  We are clearly making history here.)

So, falafel.  I love it.  One of our favorite restaurants in town, Otto’s Pub and Brewery, had some of the best falafel I’ve ever had.  Or, at 9.2% alcohol content, maybe it was the Double D IPA that made my memories of it so warm and fuzzy.   It’s no longer on the menu, so I have to get my fix elsewhere.  I decided to try my own version for spring that would include sweet green peas, lots of garlic, creamy minted cucumbers, and a smoky sour cream sauce.

This version did not disappoint and it’s easy enough (provided you aren’t afraid of a little frying) for a weeknight meal.  So easy, in fact, that I think I’ll include it in the Cuizoo Arsenal.  It is equally good on a salad, in a pita, or wrap.  On its own, it makes a great party appetizer.  And I haven’t tried it yet, but I bet you could make these up and freeze them in quantities for a quick meal.  My leftovers are getting re-purposed for a chopped salad tonight with baby romaine, more cucumbers, avocado, and maybe some spicy toasted pumpkin seeds.

All of which will hopefully go into (and stay in) the appropriate orifices.

Sweet Pea Falafel with Minted Cucumber Salad

Serves 6

3 cups garbanzo beans (almost two cans), drained
1 cup peas (fresh or thawed frozen)
3 T parsley, chopped
3 T cilantro, chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 t salt
1/2 t smoked paprika
1 t cumin
1/8 t chipotle powder (or to taste)
Freshly ground pepper
1 t baking powder
5 T flour
Vegetable oil (something mild tasting)

Accompaniments:
Warm Pita Bread
Thinly sliced onion
Minted Cucumbers (3-4 peeled, seeded, and sliced cucumbers tossed with a bit of salt, pepper, chopped fresh mint, and 1-2 T sour cream)
Extra fresh mint
Smoky Sour Cream Sauce (1/2 cup of sour cream with a bit of salt and 1/4 t smoked paprika)

1.  In the bowl of a food processor, add garbanzos, peas, parsley, cilantro, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and spices.  Pulse until it is well combined and sticks together — but not entirely pureed like hummus.  It should still have some coarseness and texture to it.  You may have to scrape down the sides a few times to get it to combine — do not be tempted to add liquid to make it process easier.  Transfer to a bowl and stir in baking powder and flour.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, and up to several hours.

2.  Remove falafel mixture from refrigerator and form into small patties or balls.  I think smaller patties tend to stay together the best and require less oil to fry.  Heat about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium heat until it is about 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Fry 4-6 falafel patties at a time, for about 2-3 minutes per side until they are golden brown.  Keep warm on a cookie sheet in the oven while you fry the remainder of the falafel (making sure oil is back up to temperature before frying the next batch).

3.  To serve, take one half of a pita and place two falafel patties in it with several spoonfuls of the minted cucumbers, a few sliced onions, several leaves of mint, and a drizzle of the sour cream sauce.

 

 

 

Pasta with Fresh Peas, Basil, and Mint

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that summer cooking is almost every bit as good as summer lovin’. Actually, I think it might be what replaces the thrill of summer lovin’ when you get old and boring.  Because seriously, heirloom tomatoes covered with olive oil and basil? Or fresh sweet corn dripping with butter and salt?  I really don’t need to say more, do I?

The beautiful, fresh, exploding with flavor summer ingredients speak for themselves so nicely that we just don’t need to do much to them.  It is the time of year when simplicity rules — save the 20 ingredient dinner recipes for winter when you are struggling to drain some flavor from the cardboard produce from Mexico.  No offense to Mexico — because I am quite sure your tomatoes are wonderful when you eat them there, but once they get to us, they suck.

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And I know I say this all the time, but when you cook simply with local ingredients your kids will start to love all different kinds of vegetables.  This recipe is a case in point:  my daughter “hates” peas.  Can’t stand them.  “Pretend gags” when she eats them.  Cried when she heard I was making pasta (her favorite!) with peas in it.  How could I possibly take the thing she enjoys the most on the planet and render it unpalatable by adding peas?  Well, she tried the peas in this recipe.  Guess what?  Loved them.  It is like fresh vegetables are simply not the same things as their evil commercially-frozen twins.

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Shelling the peas takes a bit of time … but the recipe is so easy that it really is the only prep involved.  And the kids love to help with this job.  Just make sure you give them a REALLY big bowl to do it in or your peas will be rolling around the floor like marbles.   And get extra peas because the kids were eating them raw out of the bowl.   Which is something I so distinctly remember doing with my grandmother — sitting on the back porch and shelling peas or lima beans from the garden and sneaking a few here and there.  Those are the vivid memories I want my kids to have of childhood summers … because some day, when they are beyond the days of camp boyfriends and summers spent working at the beach counting their collective hook-ups, they will settle down and taste some fresh summer peas and feel positively orgasmic.

Pasta with Fresh Peas, Basil, and Mint

Serves 4-6

1 lb. of whole wheat pasta
2-3 cups of freshly shelled peas
Small bunch of fresh basil, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
Small bunch of fresh mint, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2-1 cup of freshly grated parmesan
Salt and Pepper to taste

1.  Cook pasta according to package directions in salted water.  When the pasta has about 30-45 seconds remaining, throw in the peas and cook.  Drain pasta and peas immediately and leave a bit of the water clinging to the pasta.  Return it to the pan and turn the heat off to the burner (the residual heat on the stove is usually enough to finish the dish).

2.  Toss the pasta and peas with olive oil and garlic and  stir to combine.  Add in the grated parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.

3.  When ready to serve, toss with freshly chopped basil and mint.  Serve with additional parmesan.

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Spring Pasta with Brown Butter, Asparagus, Peas, and Chanterelle Mushrooms

I often think that my laziness has been great fuel for my cooking creativity.   There are so many days when I stare into my pantry (while my two year old desperately attempts to clutch every box of crackers in it) and think that there is absolutely nothing to cook.  And then I walk away and go back in again.  And then I look at my kids and can’t stand the thought of a late afternoon trip to the grocery store with both children, trying to do three point turns in the race car cart, fulfilling bagel requests, and praying to the grocery store Gods that the check out lines are no more than two deep.

So that’s when I go for pasta.  These type of quick pasta dinners are mid-week staples around here.  They are great for a night off from meat, can easily be made into a “one bowl” kind of meal with veggies included, they usually require no grocery store trips, and are super quick.  And there is something about spring and summer that just seems to call out for light pasta meals with fresh vegetables.  And aside from the asparagus and herbs, this was basically a pantry meal.  But there are plenty of nights where we have basically the same dish with peas and pasta with a nice salad on the side.  

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So, I give you pasta.  The meal that preserves your sanity.

Spring Pasta with Brown Butter, Asparagus, Peas, and Chanterelle Mushrooms (serves 4 with leftovers)

10 oz. dried pasta (this is about 2/3 of a package and any kind will do, we used whole grain thin spaghetti)
1/2 oz. package of dried mushrooms (I had chanterelles, any kind of dried mushrooms are great pantry staples though)
1 cup of white wine or water
1 bunch of aparagus
Fresh Chervil or other herbs (flat leaf parsley would be great too, or skip it)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 stick of butter (4 tablespoons)
Frozen Peas
1 cup of grated Parmesan
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
Balsamic Vinegar/Olive Oil

1.  Put a large pot of cold water on the stove and salt it generously (it’s imperative to salt your pasta water well — that’s where a lot of flavor comes from).

2.  Take one cup of wine or water and heat it in a small bowl for about a minute in the microwave.  Add dried mushrooms to heated wine/water and let soak for about 30 minutes.

3.  Meanwhile, prep your asparagus by washing them and removing tough ends (snap where it breaks easily and you should be good).  Cut asparagus into 1 1/2 inch pieces and set aside.

4.  Chop 2 cloves garlic and fresh chervil/herbs (if using).

5.  Grate parmesan.

6.  Heat a saute pan over medium heat.  Add 1/2 stick of butter and melt.  Stir constantly after it has melted.  Your goal is brown butter — which will smell nutty and fragrant.  If you cook it too much, it will definitely burn (I’ve done it plenty of times, just start over).  It should take about 2-3 minutes.  When it starts to smell nicely, just keep stirring and as it turns brownish, remove from heat immediately.  Stir in chopped garlic and set aside.

7.  Bring pasta water to the boil.  

8.  If you feel like it, remove mushrooms from wine/water, chop them, and then strain the liquid through a coffee filter and set aside (you can use it on the pasta).  If you don’t feel like it, just squeeze the mushrooms to remove any liquid and chop roughly.  You can use some white wine or just a little of the pasta water in place of mushroom liquid.

9.  When water is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to package directions.  At the same time, put your saute pan with brown butter and garlic back on the heat and reheat it to medium-high.  

10.  Saute asparagus in brown butter/garlic mixture until tender and bright green.  Add some frozen peas, chopped mushrooms, and 1/4 cup of either the mushroom soaking liquid or wine (or scoop out some of the pasta water).  Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and freshly ground pepper.  Remove from heat.

11.  Drain pasta when done.  Put pasta back in pasta pot on the stove and dump contents of saute pan (brown butter, asparagus, peas, mushrooms, and liquid) onto drained pasta.  Stir in grated parmesan, fresh chervil/herbs, and extra salt and pepper to taste (and some extra mushroom liquid/wine/pasta water if it is too dry).

12.  Stir well when serving b/c the veggies have a tendency to sink to the bottom.  Plate the pasta and veggies, sprinkle with some extra parm, and drizzle with a bit of balsamic vinegar and olive oil (if you like, I find the fruitiness of the olive oil goes nicely with the nuttiness of the brown butter).  

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