Macaroni and Peas
Episode 2 Recipe
My affair with peas, fresh pea soup and mac and peas.
The first days of summer is around the corner and the local veggies are just starting to pop. It has been a slow start this year here in the Hud-Val. Though we have have a few hot days, the chilly weather has lingered a little longer than usual. But now, past mid june, the early pop of peas and strawberries are upon us. It’s time to get to work.
Peas are an interesting early crop. The can be so delicious when fresh, but are bland and starchy if handled incorrectly. The trick with peas is to use them as soon as you can. As soon as they are picked from the plant, they begin the process of turning the natural sugars into starches. So if you get peas from the farmers market and you want them to be magically sweet, process them right away.
I have learned my lesson. Too often I would buy a big bag of fresh peas from the farm stand, bring them home and throw them in the fridge. Two or three days later I would deal with them.. The results were always chalky and bland, So there is no time to waste. Pick em, shell em and cook em, or blanch them for one minute, shock them in ice water and then freeze them.
Oh yea, then you have frozen peas! Well, that ain’t so bad. Most frozen peas are always sweet because they are processed and frozen within 12 hours of picking. And--they are great in recipes, especially quick pastas and rice dishes.
So don’t DAWDLE. Eat em of freeze em the day you buy them!
My absolute FAVORITE dish when I was a kid was
Macaroni and Peas.
It was my mom’s go to dish to fill me up on a busy school night.
Elbow macaroni with sweet peas, butter, Parmigiana and black pepper. Nothing else. It is so simple and so perfect. In an Italian home, this was our version of mac’n’cheese. But better, way better.
Bring your salted water to a boil.
1 lb elbow macaroni
2 cups fresh shelled peas.
Half a stick unsalted butter (2 oz)
¼ cup grated Parmigiana cheese, or sardo, or Sonoma jack ( nothing processed please!)
Plus more on the table
Black pepper to taste, push it!
Drop the elbows in amply salted water to cook.
When they are about almost ready add the peas. When the pasta is done, remove it from the pot with a spider to a large serving bowl.
Add about 2 oz of the pasta water and the butter.
Stir. Now add the cheese and about 6 twists of the peppermill.
Stir and serve hot.
Hit it with fresh grinds of black pepper and more cheese as you go.