Ahhh, peas. We share a long and troubled history, peas and I. They’ve never been one of my favourites. “Wait a minute, Nin,” you may well interrupt. “You stated a very short time ago that you loved the lentil. You adored the legume. This is irreconcilable and inconsistent information!” Well, good folk, all I can say is that, in the data sample for “Nin’s Love of Legumes,” the peas are the filthy outliers and statistical anomalies hellbent on stymying analysis.
Aesthetically speaking, I have nothing but appreciation for the humble green pea. As a child, I always thought that their pods were like butterfly chrysalises, and I loved to watch them grow gravid and expectant over the course of the summer. Even now, I only have to pop the seam of a peapod, revealing the beautiful, emerald treasure nestled inside like a misplaced strand of pearls, to be transported back to my grandmother’s porch, where I’d help Gran shell peas from her garden.
On the other end of the memory spectrum, my mother delights in telling and retelling the story of my ingenious method of dealing with those tricksy, little peas as an infant. Obviously I couldn’t eat them as they tasted foul and, being diaper-clad and unable to walk, I didn’t have any pockets to secret them away for later disposal down the lav, so I had to use what tools I had available to me. My method consisted of grinding the peas into paste between my fingers and then concealing the proto-styling gel in the “depths” of my inch-long hair. Think of those plastic troll baby dolls with the wide, staring eyes, slightly maniacal facial expression, and the wild tuft of straw-like, rainbow-hued hair, and you’ve pretty much got the picture. Unfortunately, Mum has the picture in an album somewhere, too.
So, why do I continue to torture myself by trying recipes that contain the evil, green bean? Well, for a handful of reasons, really. Him Indoors likes them well enough, so I wouldn’t dream of depriving him. I also know that they’re quite good for a body – nutritionally speaking, they pack quite a wallop. On paper, it’s obvious why I should persevere in eating them despite my natural aversion. The fruits of Pisum sativum are just such lovely foodstuffs that it’d be rude not to keep trying to find some way to get them down my neck. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the tale of the eldritch, green children thought to be creatures of faerie when discovered lost and wandering near the village of Woolpit many years ago. It was said that, as well as being green of skin, these poor waifs spoke a language that none could understand, and they would only eat beans and peas straight from the pod. So, the sobering realisation that my dislike of peas might preclude me from tracing my lineage back to the fairies did in no way influence my decision to keep eating them. Nope, nor did the thought that, if I ate enough of the little blighters, the fairyfolk might be more inclined to look favourably upon me cross my mind. What rubbish! What fantastical nonsense! Who thinks like that in this day and age?
Moving swiftly on, I tried this recipe for Broad bean, Pea, Courgette and Feta Salad as one of my final tributes to the summer. (It has the added benefit of providing yet another way to deal with those late season stragglers from your courgette/zucchini patch as well!) Both myself and H.I. thought it was a keeper. It was just a handful of ingredients, simple to throw together, and very tasty in a sweet and salty and tangy sort of fashion. I would suggest, however, that one ought to save this salad strictly for summertime consumption when the tender ingredients, the peas, beans, and courgettes, are fresh and toothsome. I’ve nothing against frozen fruit and vegetables, but, once frozen, they do lose a good deal in the way of texture, which would alter this salad considerably.
Broad bean, pea, courgette and feta salad
Adapted from a recipe from Ocado.
1 cup podded broad beans
1 cup peas, preferably fresh
1 tin butter beans (14 oz), drained and rinsed
2 courgettes, sliced thinly
1 tsp thyme
For the dressing:
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (2 for sauteeing the courgettes, 4 for the dressing)
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1/2 – 3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled or cubed
1. Cook the broad beans and peas in boiling, unsalted water for 2 – 3 minutes or until tender. (I cooked them separately, but the recipe advised to boil them up together. Personal preference!) Drain and refresh under running cold water to stop them from cooking. Don’t forget to pop the broad beans out of their tough, fibrous jackets after boiling.
2. Put the peas and broad beans into a large bowl. Tip the drained and rinsed butter beans in with them and gently toss together.
3. Sautee the courgettes in 2 tbsp of the oil until they’re slightly wilted, not browned, and then tip them into the bean mixture. Sprinkle with the thyme.
3. Whisk the remaining olive oil, white wine vinegar, dijon mustard and brown sugar together. Season to your liking with salt and pepper and gently toss into the bean salad, along with the feta cheese. Allow it chill for at least one hour.