Linguine with Morels, Asparagus and Peas

Linguine with Morels, Asparagus and Peas

Morels, asparagus and peas team up in this quintessential springtime pasta dish. Earthy mushrooms marry well with astringent asparagus and sweet peas. Famously delicious in sauces, risottos and pasta, these ingredients require little else except a nap of cream and a sprinkling of cheese to bind them all together, resulting in an easy yet elegant seasonal meal.

Linguine with Asparagus, Morels and Fava Beans
Serves 4

1/2 ounce dried morel mushrooms or 1/4 pound fresh morels, cleaned, sliced
1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed, cut in 1″ pieces
1 pound linguine
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy heavy cream
1/2 cup shelled sweet peas
Freshly ground black pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese

Prepare morels:
If using dried morels, place in a small bowl and cover with boiling water.  Let sit 20 minutes.  Drain and gently squeeze out any extra liquid.  Cut in half lengthwise and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add asparagus and blanch until crisp-tender and bright green without overcooking, 1 minute.  Remove with slotted spoon and refresh under cold water.  Set aside.
Add linguine to same pot and cook until al dente or firm to the bite according to package instructions; drain.
Heat olive oil and melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic, morels and 1 teaspoon salt.  Sauté until garlic is fragrant and morels are tender, about 2 minutes.  Add chicken stock and cream.  Simmer until thickened and reduced by about half, 5-7 minutes.  Stir in peas and simmer until brightened and crisp tender, 1 minute. Stir in  the asparagus.  Add pasta to the skillet and toss to combine.  Season with lots of freshly ground black pepper. Serve with a generous spoonful of grated cheese for garnish.

Spring “Tabbouleh” – Bulgur Salad with Lemon, Radishes and Snap Peas

Spring “Tabbouleh” – Bulgur Salad with Lemon, Radishes and Snap Peas

Try this salad on for spring: Bulgur Salad with Lemon, Radishes and Snap Peas is packed with fresh herbs and greens, studded with radishes and sugar snap peas. It’s a refreshing version of tabbouleh, milder in flavor and bursting with seasonal vegetables.

What is tabbouleh? An addictively delicious Middle Eastern salad featuring bulgur wheat, steeped in water or stock, then tossed with an abundance of fresh parsley, mint, lemon and seasoning.  Its name translates to “little spicy” which is probably the tipping point for those of us who can’t get enough of this healthy salad.

As a concept I love playing with variations of tabbouleh. This recipe is inspired by the spring vegetables I purchased at the farmers’ market today. Kale flowers, radishes, sugar snap peas and red spring onions are tumbled with bulgur infused with lemon and olive oil. The spicing is gentle, in deference to the mild sweetness of the vegetables, without ignoring the “little spicy” contingent. Delicious and satisfying, enjoy this as a healthy salad, side dish or light main course.  I served it with pita bread and hummus for an easy vegetarian dinner.

Spring “Tabbouleh” – Bulgur Salad with Lemon, Radishes and Snap Peas

The bulgur should be tender but firm when cooked. The kale flowers are optional yet lovely as a bright garnish. Serves 4.

1 cup bulgur
1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 pound sliced sugar snap peas, cut on the diagonal, about 1 cup
1/4 pound sliced radishes, cut in slivers, about 1 cup
1 cup baby arugula leaves
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, or to taste

Combine bulgur, water and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; remove from heat.  Cover and let sit until the bulgur absorbs all of the liquid, about 20 minutes. Uncover and add 1/4 cup olive oil and lemon juice, fluffing the bulgur with a fork. Cool to room temperature. Add 1 teaspoon salt and all the remaining ingredients, gently tossing to combine. Taste for seasoning. Serve on a bed of greens or in pita pockets.

Winter Greens Salad with Cranberries and Pistachios

Winter Greens Salad with Cranberries and Pistachios

As much as I like a warming winter stew, I also appreciate a fresh winter salad. In fact, they both go well together.  The crisp bitter greens are a nice palate cleanser and contrast to a rich, meaty stew. I made this salad the other night with a mix of seasonal greens: mizuna, arugula, beet greens and chicory. Feel free to tinker with the combination, depending on what’s in the fridge and market, but keep in mind a variety of leaves and colors for a pretty presentation. Dried cranberries and pistachios add chewy, crunchy substance to the greens as well as a touch of sweetness and salt. I happened to spot baby rainbow carrots at the farmers market that day, and tossed a few in for extra color and texture. Don’t throw out the carrot tops. If they are bright and fresh, they can join the greens.

Winter Greens Salad with Cranberries and Pistachios
Serves 4-6

8 cups mixed winter greens, such as frisée, arugula, mustard, beet greens, chicory, mizuna
2-3 baby carrots, green tops reserved, peeled and thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 handful fresh flat leaf parsley and/or cilantro sprigs
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons shelled pistachios

Apple Cider Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Wash and dry the salad leaves. Place in a large bowl. Coarsely chop carrot greens if using. Scatter carrot greens,  carrots, parsley, cranberries and pistachios over the leaves. Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 small shallot, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Prepare vinaigrette. Combine vinegar, shallot, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk in oil in a steady stream to emulsify.

Home Grown Food

DK Salad

I may be exposing my suburban roots, but it thoroughly impresses me when an entire meal can be harvested from a back yard.  Nowadays, there is plenty of talk of local, sustainable food, and happily this concept is growing through local farmers’ markets and CSA’s, movements such as Slow Food, and committed practice by chefs and home cooks alike. Last week, the BlogHer Food Conference offered panel discussions on urban farming, canning, preserving and foraging. NOMA, the acclaimed Copenhagen restaurant crowned number one in the world this year, creates its menu from ingredients which are locally foraged. Times are changing and hopeful as we return to our land, our communities and our kitchens.

I do my best to buy locally grown food, grateful I live in a part of the country where we have an abundance. I remain mindful of what and how we eat, aware that this is a learning curve – a process to move through in order to change a pattern of living and eating into a way that feels intuitively correct. Yet, as I pat myself on my back, I cannot help but feel like a self-aggrandized neanderthal when I think of my husband’s family in Denmark. My state of attempted permanent mindfulness is their norm, naturally and reflexively. While I write about it to convey an epiphany, they feel no need to articulate it, because it’s their way of life. Like breathing.

Mushrooms tf

When we lived in Denmark, and now when we return to visit, a frequent outing was to my sister and brother-in-law’s farm in the countryside. Each visit culminated in a family dinner based on food harvested from their property. The last meal we shared with them went something like this:

It began with homemade salumi made of venison and duck hunted from the nearby forest.  As we nibbled on the lean slices of salami, my brother-in-law went outside to harvest bucketloads of crayfish from their lake. He returned with a dripping basket teaming with crustaceans. In one arm he cradled giant porcini mushrooms the size of tennis balls, which he had spotted growing by a grove of trees on the way to the dock. In the meantime, after I had rather naively inquired as to whether there was a salad I could help make, my sister-in-law returned from her garden where she went to gather her daily harvest of vegetables. She profusely apologized that she did not have any lettuce, while she heaved her basket on to the table. It toppled to the side, spilling out its contents, a free form cornucopia of heirloom tomatoes, chard, new potatoes, red potatoes, yellow carrots, crab apples, garlic, zucchini, crookneck squash, red onions and grapes. She declared that this was only one day’s worth of a harvest. It should all be eaten, since there would be just as much to harvest tomorrow. So, we got cooking.
Crayfish plate

The porcinis were cleaned, sliced, and dressed with olive oil and salt. I made a salad of colorful heirloom tomatoes, red onion and chard; potatoes were roasted in olive oil and garlic; apples and carrots were sliced and put in lemon water for the children; we sautéed the zucchini and crookneck squash; the crayfish were boiled and cooled; homemade bread was warmed and sliced; the table was laid while we gamely tried to find room for all the plates and food. As we tucked into our meal, my brother-in-law told us to save some space for the pigeon and duck he had braising in the oven that he was eager for us to taste, adding that he had saved the largest porcini mushroom for a cream sauce which would accompany the birds.

This was a delicious, abundant meal created from food hunted or grown on the property. The further beauty of it was that there was no need for a written recipe. Each dish reflected the main ingredient, either cooked or raw, enhanced with salt, pepper, some olive oil, perhaps a little vinegar and lemon or a simple sauce. It was delicious and sating – a feast for a king despite our hosts’ humble means.

I still have so much to learn.

Heirloom Tomato and Chard Salad with Red Onions and Basil

Serves 4-6.

2 pounds assorted baby heirloom tomatoes, sliced or halved, depending on size
2 cups mixed red and green chard leaves, stems removed
2 small red onions, peeled, thinly sliced
1 cup purple and green basil leaves, stems removed
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Arrange tomatoes in the center of a serving platter, alternating colors. Arrange chard leaves around the edge of the platter. Top tomatoes and chard with red onion slices. Garnish with basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Blueberry Tart

Blueberry tart

It was impossible to resist the blueberries at the farmers market this morning. Tables were heaped with blueberries. You could choose from buckets, baskets, pints and quarts brimming with inky blue, plump fruit. I purchased two pounds, and arrived home with 1 1/2 pounds, because I couldn’t stop nibbling them along the way. Once home, my family gobbled at least another half pound before I rescued the remainder, which is exactly how much I need to make a Blueberry Tart.

Bluberry Tart – Tarte aux Myrtilles
Serves 6-8

For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup  sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound unsalted butter
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

Combine flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl.  Cut butter in pieces into the flour mixture until the largest pieces resemble the size of peas.  Add the egg yolks and mix lightly with fingertips to incorporate and the dough is crumbly.  Press the dough evenly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9″ tart pan with a removable bottom.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Prebake tart shell:
Preheat oven to 375 F.  Prick bottom all over with a fork.  Line the bottom with parchment paper.  Fill liner with dried beans or pie weights.  Bake shell for 15 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden.  Remove shell from oven.  Remove parchment and pie weights.  Return shell to oven and cook 10 minutes, or until golden all over.  Remove and cool.

For the filling:
1 pound blueberries, picked over, washed, dried
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Whisk together 1 tablespoon water and cornstarch in a small bowl; set aside.
Combine 1/2 pound blueberries, sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring, until blueberries pop and mixture begins to thicken – about 3 minutes. Add cornstarch and lemon juice to blueberries. Simmer 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Fold in remaining blueberries.  Pour into pre-baked tart shell.  Let sit at room temperature until set, at least 1 hour.  Serve with whipped cream or crème fraîche.

Baked Salmon with Baby Fennel, Mustard and Tarragon

Salmon Fennel tf

I love it when I can go to the farmer’s market on a Sunday and come home with …. fish. And not just any fish, but fresh-off-the-boat fish that tastes of the sea. Call me provincial European or mentally land-locked, but fresh fish on a Sunday?  At a Farmer’s Market?

Mind you, this is no ordinary farmer’s market. The San Rafael Farmer’s Market is one of the largest open air markets in California.  Each Sunday, farmers, purveyors and artisans gather in the shadow of the Marin County Civic Center, a stunning Frank Lloyd Wright construction, and sell their goods. Open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. you can easily pack a full day into several hours. Arrive early before the crowds, and enjoy a cappuccino or latte with an authentic Belgian Waffle or flaky French croissant. Then wander through the stalls and purchase seasonal vegetables and fruit, local cheese, meat and, of course, fish. It’s easy to overload on purchases and nibbles, freely offered throughout the market. Feeling tired? Take a break and listen to live music and enjoy a mid-morning snack of dim sum or artisanal pastry. Kids antsy? Give them a pony ride or a jump on a bouncy castle. If that’s worked up another appetite, finish with pizza or grilled organic sausages, falafel or panini. Then head home with your goodies, and plan your dinner.

Dinner on Sunday is always fun. Inspired by our purchases, a meal is created, usually simple, always seasonal and fresh. Which brings me to the fish. In the past 2 weeks we have twice been served gorgeous salmon filets by friends who have also been to the farmer’s market. Each time it has been so delicious and fresh that this Sunday we craved more and made a beeline for the fish stall. The salmon we purchased was so pristine, I didn’t even want to grill it and introduce any charred flavor to its buttery flesh. When we came home, I decided to marinate and bake it with fresh tarragon and baby fennel, which I also bought at the market. So, yes, we can get fresh fish at the Sunday Farmer’s Market. And, yes, we are very lucky.

Baked Salmon with Fennel, Mustard and Tarragon

The licorice flavors of the tarragon and fennel combine beautifully with fresh salmon in this easy and elegant spring dish. This recipe can easily be expanded to feed a crowd. Serves 4-5.

1 garlic clove
1/4 cup tarragon leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2 pounds salmon filets, pin bones removed
2 to 3 baby fennel, bulbs thinly sliced

Smash the garlic clove with the salt in a mortar with a pestle. Add the tarragon and bruise with the pestle. Whisk in the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, zest and a small bunch of the reserved fennel fronds. Arrange salmon filets in one layer in a baking dish. Place fennel halves around the salmon. Pour the tarragon oil over the fish and fennel and spread to cover evenly. Cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours. Remove from refrigerator 20 minutes before baking. Bake in a preheated 350 F. (180 C.) oven until fish is just cooked through, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

Grilled Steak with Rosemary, Shiitake Mushrooms and Garlic Scapes

Steak Shitake

This morning, in honor of Mother’s Day, we went to the farmers market with the satisfying intention of purchasing ingredients for our dinner. Beautiful New York strip steaks were on display and immediately went into our basket. Asparagus, shitake mushrooms, strawberries, peas and fava beans quickly followed. Our final purchase was a bunch of garlic scapes, impossible to pass by, as they feistily vied for attention, announcing their assertiveness – if not in taste, than in their spiky shape.

Garlic scapes resemble an oversized chive with a bulbous flower at the end. The stalks are firm with a peppery bite and mild garlic flavor. They are wonderful in a stir-fry, because they retain their crispness, and impart a mellow, garlicky flavor. The flowers are edible and, when cooked, have a somewhat astringent and earthy flavor.

Garlic scapes

When we arrived home, I made a paste of garlic, rosemary, sea salt and olive oil and smeared it all over the steaks to marinate in during the afternoon. While they stewed in garlic and rosemary, I prepared a stir-fry of Shitake Mushrooms and Garlic Scapes to serve over the steaks as a fresh garnish, along with grilled asparagus, new potatoes and fresh strawberries and cream for dessert. I can’t think of a better Mother’s Day celebration.

New York Strip Steak with Sautéed Shiitake Mushrooms and Garlic Scapes
Serves 4

3 garlic cloves, minced
2 rosemary sprigs
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt, such as Maldon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 New York or ribeye steaks

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
4 to 6 elephant garlic scapes, bulbs removed and saved for another use, stalks thinly sliced
1 sprig rosemary
6 ounces (180 g) shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean with a paper towel, ends trimmed, sliced
1/3 cup (80 ml) beef or chicken stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish

  1. Combine garlic, rosemary, and salt in a mortar with a pestle. Smash the garlic and bruise the rosemary. Mix in the olive oil and black pepper.
  2. Rub the oil all over the steaks. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Remove from refrigerator one hour before grilling.
  3. Prepare the vegetables: Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the garlic scapes and sauté 1 minute. Add the rosemary sprig and shitake mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms begin to release their juices and turn golden brown. Stir in the stock and deglaze the pan and then add the soy sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Prepare the grill for direct cooking over high heat. Grill the steaks over direct heat until cooked to your desired doneness, 6 to 8 minutes for medium-rare, turning as needed.
  5. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing. Arrange the steaks on serving plates or platter. Spoon the shitake and garlic scape stir-fry over the meat. Garnish with rosemary sprigs.

Spring Fling: Linguine with Asparagus, Morels and Fava Beans

Spring Fling: Linguine with Asparagus, Morels and Fava Beans

Asparagus morel fava

It never fails.  Come spring I do my best to overdose on all the tempting produce that arrives at the  market.  Mind you, I live in California, so the winter is hardly dire and food is certainly not relegated to root cellars.  Nonetheless, when the spring season’s first asparagus, English peas, and favas make an appearance, I cannot resist buying them – every day.

Asparagus is one of my all time favorites and they never cease to catch my attention. Today is a perfect example.  Plump, purple-tinged asparagus were nestled in my market’s produce section, their tips standing at attention, towering over the artichokes to the left and English peas to the right.  It was impossible to pass them by without picking up a bunch, breathing in their clean, grassy aroma, appreciating their weight and firmness.  Into my basket they went.


Fortunately, my family shares my love for asparagus.  Yet, in order to keep them interested as long as my seasonal obsession continues, I know I must come up with new and interesting ways to serve asparagus.  After all, I know that when I return to the market tomorrow or go the farmers market this weekend I will buy more.

This recipe combines asparagus with morels and fava beans.  If you are not lucky enough to find fresh morel mushrooms, dried ones will do. I used fava beans from my freezer from a crate I blanched, shelled and froze in small freezer bags to enjoy through the winter.

Morel fava pasta

Linguine with Asparagus, Morels and Fava Beans
Serves 4

1/2 ounce (15 g.) dried morel mushrooms or 1/4 pound fresh morels, cleaned, sliced
1 pound (500 g.) asparagus, ends trimmed, cut in 1″ pieces

1 lb. (500 g.) linguine

1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup (125 ml.) chicken stock
1 cup heavy (250 ml.) heavy cream
1 cup fava beans, blanched, shelled
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Pecorino cheese shavings for garnish – use a mild cheese such as Pecorino Sardo or Brigante
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare morels:
If using dried morels, place in a small bowl and cover with boiling water.  Let sit 20 minutes.  Drain and gently squeeze out any extra liquid.  Cut in half lengthwise and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add asparagus and blanch until crisp-tender and bright green, 1-2 minutes; do not overcook.  Remove with slotted spoon and refresh under cold water.  Set aside.
Add linguine to same pot and cook until al dente or firm to the bite according to package instructions.  Drain and return to pot.

Heat olive oil and melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and morels.  Saute until garlic is fragrant and morels are tender, 2 minutes.  Add chicken stock and cream.  Simmer until thickened and somewhat reduced, about 5 minutes.  Stir in asparagus pieces and fava beans.  Add to pasta in pot and toss to combine.  Stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  Season with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper.

Serve on individual plates or large serving bowl.  Garnish with shavings of Pecorino cheese.

Nectarine, Blueberry and Raspberry Crisp

Nectarine, Blueberry and Raspberry Crisp

Nectarine, Raspberry, Blueberry Crumble tf

I confess to being a glutton when it comes to stone fruit. There is a window of time when peaches, nectarines and plums run rampant at the market. Vibrantly hued and mottled in purples, oranges, fuscias and crimson, their flesh is a perfect balance of sweet, tangy, winey, and tart.  I could eat them all day long, but then my stomach would hurt.  At this time when these gifts are abundant, I tend to overshop.  (It’s no secret that I have indulgence issues at farmers’ markets.)  My kitchen counters are lined with bowls and baskets brimming with fruit.  So, it’s no surprise that even in our home, all of this fruit cannot be eaten at the peak of ripeness.  Some start to get a little too ripe, buried at the bottom of the bowl, or even passed over for the newest batch from the market.  As I said, I have indulgence issues.

This is the moment when a crumble or crisp comes in handy.  It’s desserts’ equivalent to a homey vegetable soup.  Gather up all the ripe, somewhat passed fruit (as you might with vegetables for a soup), cut and chop and pile them in a baking dish.  Garnish with berries and pile on the topping.  The tartness of the berries balances the sweetness of the stone fruit, and with little added sugar the result is a rich, murky, sweet – but not cloying – perfumed stew of summer fruit. It’s best served warm, but not piping hot, since that will mask the flavor of the fruit. A dollop of high quality vanilla ice cream or whipped cream adds a cool foil to the warm, more-ish fruit.

Nectarine, Blueberry and Raspberry Crisp

You can use any stone fruit for the crisp. Try any combination of plums, peaches and nectarines. The addition of raspberries and blueberries adds tartness and color.

Serves 8

For the topping:
1 1/2 cups (170 g.) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (100 g.) brown sugar
1/4 cup (55 g.) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (170 g.) unsalted butter, cut in small cubes

For the fruit:
2 lbs.(1 kg.) nectarines (or use a combination of nectarines, plums, peaches), halved and pitted, cut in 1″ chunks
1 cup (150 g.) raspberries
1 cup (150 g.) blueberries
2 tablespoons sugar

Prepare topping:
Combine dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.  Mix well to combine.  Add butter, and work in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. (Topping can be prepared one day in advance.  Cover and refrigerate until use.)

Prepare crisp:
Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.)
Arrange nectarines in rectangular baking dish.  Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar.  Arrange raspberries and blueberries over nectarines.  Cover fruit evenly with topping. Bake in oven until topping is golden brown and fruit is bubbling, 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool briefly.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Sautéed Garlic Shrimp with Minted Pea Purée and Pecorino

Sautéed Garlic Shrimp with Minted Pea Purée and Pecorino

Shrimp and Pea Puree

English peas are nature’s superior answer to fast food.  Sweet and crisp, they taste best popped straight from the shell into the mouth; no need to bother with cooking.  At this time of year peas are abundant, and when I go to the farmers’ market I find myself using up all of my spare money on brown bags overflowing with peas.  Today was no different:  I came home from the market with several pounds of peas, cascading out of their overstuffed bags, mingling with bunches of fresh mint, chives, and edible kale flowers. Once home, I quickly confiscated a singular bag to stash away and later transform into a pea puree while the rest of the family and visiting friends grabbed handfuls of peas as they passed through the kitchen.

The pea puree is delicious as is, but my favorite way to serve it is with shellfish.  The briny sweetness of shrimp, scallops or lobster is a perfect compliment to the sweetness of the peas, while the pearly coral colors of the shellfish contrast beautifully with the vivid green pea color.  I like to present the following recipe  in small glasses or demi-tasse cups with the shellfish perched on top.

English Peas

Sautéed Garlic Shrimp with Minted Pea Purée and Pecorino
Serves 8 as an appetizer

2 cups shelled English peas
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon dried chili flakes
1 large garlic clove, minced
16 large shrimp, peeled with tails intact, deveined
2 tablespoons dry white wine

Pecorino Romano shavings
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil

Fresh chives for garnish
Kale flowers (optional)

Prepare Pea Purée:
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add 1 teaspoon salt and the peas. Reduce heat and simmer until peas are tender. Remove from heat; drain peas, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.
Combine peas and 1/4 cup cooking liquid in food processor and purée until smooth. Add more water to desired consistency. Transfer to bowl. Stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil, Pecorino and fresh mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Prepare Shrimp:
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a sauté pan. Add garlic and chili flakes. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add shrimp in one layer and cook, turning once, until pink on the outside and opaque in the center, about 1 minute per side. Add wine and cook 30 seconds to allow alcohol to evaporate. Remove from heat. Divide warm pea purée among 8 demi-tasse cups or martini glasses. Arrange 2 shrimp over purée. Top with Pecorino shavings, freshly ground black pepper and drizzle olive oil over. Garnish with chives and edible flowers.

Kale Flowers