It’s the height of the season for English peas. I get my peas from the Iacopi stand at the Ferry Plaza Farmers and find them hard to resist, though I limit myself to a bag about every two weeks. A small bag of the Iacopi peas produces about two cups of shelled peas.
I love the concept and the look of English peas. I even enjoy the shelling. But often, I just don’t know what to do with them. One of my favorites is creamed potatoes and peas. Peas and noodles are good, as well. I don’t like to just cook the peas as a vegetable… it reminds me of grabbing a bag of frozen peas and cooking them as a last minute vegetable addition to a meal. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; it’s just so… ordinary. It seems to me that the cost and effort it takes for fresh English peas demand more than that.
Last night I had a lovely piece of swordfish and was thinking about doing it on the grill. What to go with? During the evening news, I sat on the couch and shelled my peas. How to prepare?
I had a couple of spring onions and a larger red spring onion. Those sweet things are good with peas, and hey… I could grill the onions with the fish. I was on to something. When I went to get some noodles out of the cupboard, I saw a box of Piccolini – tiny farfalle pasta, a new product from Barilla – “cooks in only seven minutes.” Interesting. The fish will cook in seven minutes, the onions will take about seven minutes on the grill and the peas will cook in four or five minutes. I had a plan.
I lit the grill, rinsed, dried and seasoned the swordfish with salt and pepper. The peas were shelled, I had about 2 cups, so I measured two cups of pasta. I trimmed the onions, cut each in half and, in a shallow bowl, tossed them with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. I put on a pot of water for the pasta and peas and preheated the countertop oven to 175°F.
When the grill was ready, on went the onions and the swordfish. Seven minutes later the onions were soft with a bit of crunch and mildly charred. I chopped those and put the fish in the oven to keep warm.
Just before the pasta went into the pot, I generously salted the water, threw in the pasta and set the timer for 7 minutes. A bit after the timer read 5 minutes, I threw the peas into the pot.
When the dinger dinged, I drained the pasta and peas, tossed a couple pats of butter and a gurgle of good olive oil into the hot empty pot, poured in the peas, onions and pasta and tossed.
That was dinner, and oh so fine. The fish was fresh and succulent, the peas, onions and pasta were the perfect counterpoint. Yum.
I sometimes wonder; is it worth lighting the grill and letting it warm up for 15 minutes to use it for only 7 minutes? The answer is an emphatic YES. And that’s why I retired my trusty Weber charcoal grill and got the swell Weber Q gas grille.
The leftover pasta with peas and onions made a great lunch, heated with a can of tomato soup.