Summer sweet peas and umami richness

With our wet early summer 2011, my kitchen garden was off to a stunted start.  But recent weeks have been a perfect incubator for these fat little babies — sweet summer peas, beet greens, and a chard that impersonates spinach!

Borrowing from Tom’s last post’s inspiration — raiding the refrigerator — I wanted to do a raid, too, but of the raised vegetable beds.

The fresh peas are blanched, retaining firmness and sweetness, but popping green from behind a once-downy pale. Beets, too, are sweet. But their greens have more of that umami, earthy flavour.  The chard/spinach greens also add that slightly mineral flavour once cooked.  So… sweet and savoury will be this recipe’s main characters for a basic pasta dish with a pan sauce of juices, pasta water, tomato paste and aged balsamic.

For a base note to run throughout the upfront flavours, I’ve raided my oils cupboard. Weeks ago, I picked up a bottle of black truffle-infused olive oil from Liquid Gold in our fab Halifax Hydrostone Market (insert nod here to the Bostonians for their rebuilding help of this end of town after the WW1-era explosion).

…Completely experimental and made up without measurement, just tasting along the way.

  1. fresh shelled peas, blanched and set aside
  2. beet greens, torn and set aside
  3. spinach, torn and set aside
  4. roasted red pepper (freshly done or use from jar if you want it fast and easy), sliced and set aside.
  5. grated or shaved parmesan cheese, set aside.
  6. keep at the ready a bottle of truffle oil for a last minute splash.
  • cook pasta (choose your favourite shape) in well-salted water.  Time the cooking to about one minute shorter than al dente instructions because you will finish cooking the pasta in the pan sauce.
  • reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy, salty pasta cooking water to use as part of pan sauce.
  • meantime, using regular olive oil, pan fry one minced clove of garlic, adding beet and spinach greens, and peas.
  • add red peppers.
  • add a splash or two of old, sweet balsamic vinegar, and let evaporate for a few seconds in the hot pan.
  • add 1/2 cut of reserved pasta cooking water.
  • dissolve tomato paste into liquid.
  • add pasta to the wet pan and allow to cook and absorb liquid for a couple of minutes.
  • add your parmesan to the pan.
  • finally, splash with truffle oil (approximately a tablespoon. A little goes a long way, and you don’t want to overpower the finished dish).
  • mix and plate it up.

P.S. Aside from wine, an ideal pairing is music from The National’s High Violet: ‘Wake Up Your Saints’


5 Comments on “Summer sweet peas and umami richness”

  1. lia says:

    sounds divine! do you deliver?

  2. I approve of both the recipe and music pairing.

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