Tag Archives: smoked sea salt

Mmmm, Minted Peas!

Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God! English peas are finally back at the farmer’s market and in grocery stores! (You’re doing a happy dance right now, aren’t you? You know I am!) To celebrate, we’re making Minted Peas, a super fast, easy and drool-inducing side dish. Of all the dishes I make, this one is the most requested by friends and my husband – people can’t get enough of this, and neither can I. It’s so good that my carnivore husband actually *requests* it – that’s a pretty big deal for a guy who sees the ‘wisdom’ in congress declaring that pizza is a vegetable. I put a California-twist on this English dish to blend the slightly sweet flavor and crisp texture of peas straight from the pod with a refreshing splash of mint, and round it out with a buttery, smokey seasoning. This is a fantastic dish.

If the thought of peas doesn’t inspire you to break into an impromptu River Dance, it’s probably because you’ve never had freshly shelled English peas. These are not the squishy, mealy, weird smelling pellets borne from a can or a frozen bag that your parents force-fed you as a child. Ug, it gives me chills when I recall my mum saying: “Cimeron, please just eat one spoonful of peas or you’ll get scurvy.” I would dissolve into tears and beg my mum not to make me eat the “spongy aliens.” A couple of decades later when I discovered English peas in the pod and shelled them myself, I fell head over heals in love with these crisp yet tender heavenly orbs of joy. Fear not – these fresh peas bear no resemblance to those “spongy aliens” found in cans (and in my childhood nightmares). Freshly shelled English peas are better than candy – seriously! When John craves something sweet, he munches on peas, which are a healthy and tasty high-fiber snack.

We’re going to flash-cook (aka blanch) the peas to keep the centers crisp and delicious while giving the exteriors a wonderfully smooth texture. So prepare yourself to have a new favorite side dish!

Mmmm, Minted Peas

Serves: 2-3
From fridge to table: 5 minutes

1.5 cups freshly shelled English peas (you’ll need to buy a couple pounds of pods)
2 tbsp fresh mint, finely minced
1/2 tsp parsley, finely minced
1/4 tsp smoked sea salt*
a pinch of ground sage
1 tbsp Earth Balance (or any other butter substitute)

* If you haven’t yet tried smoked sea salt, now’s the time! It imparts such a lovely smokey flavor that makes ordinary dishes extraordinary and it’s just divine with the minted peas. Trust me – once you try it, you’ll be using it in everything: in soups, on veggies, in potato dishes. I get mine from SpiceHound.com; you can also find it at gourmet grocery stores, cooking shops and even on Amazon.com. A little goes a long way, so it lasts forever.

In a medium saucepan, bring 5 cups of water to a rapid boil. Toss in the shelled peas and cook for 30 seconds. Drain immediately and put the peas in a serving bowl. Toss in the herbs, seasonings and butter substitute and mix thoroughly. Serve hot and enjoy! Mmmm!

Kale Chip Fail

Damn. Today I pressed my luck and got The Face from John.

In retrospect, I should have recognized how risky it was to try to replace his beloved barbeque potato chips with homemade kale chips. John has eaten potato chips with his lunch pretty much every single day since he was old enough to chew, so I shouldn’t have underestimated his resistance to disrupting his lifelong routine, nor his undying love for Lays. But a lady I met in line at the Farmer’s Market went on and on about how much her picky, fast-food loving children love kale chips and beg her to make the chips for them, so figured it was worth a try.

I thought: “Hey, kale chips are crispy and salty too, so maybe he won’t notice!” Plus, they’re nutrient-rich and have a wonderfully unique flavor. He should love them, right? WRONG.

With a look of grave dismay, he started at the crispy dark green intruder on his plate, apparently trying to vaporize it with his intense glare. Caving to my pleas, he agreed to try one, or rather, a 1 square millimeter corner of crispy kale. ‘That is seriously disgusting,” he declared. “It’s worse than the dried seaweed strips that they always try to get me to eat when I’m in Japan.”

Oh well, I guess that means more kale chips for me! Since the vast majority of people who try kale chips love them, I’ll still include the recipe just in case you’d like to try it, too. If you try them, please post a comment to let me know how you like them. But if you’ve got a die-hard potato-chip lover like John who you’re trying to convert into being a kale chip fan, prepare yourself for a potential face-off with The Face!

Kale Chips

1 bunch kale, center rib removed and leaves torn into large chip-sized pieces (personally, I like using dinosaur kale for chips since the texture lends itself well to this recipe)

1-2 tbsp olive oil

Smoked sea salt*, to taste

Optional: lime, or brown sugar, or chili powder

* Smoked sea salt imparts an incredibly smoky flavor that is just simply delicious. I get mine from www.SpiceHound.com.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Completely dry the kale – this is essential or else it won’t turn out crispy. Toss kale with olive oil and spread out in single layer on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt. If using lime or chili powder, sprinkle it on sparingly. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until kale is crispy. If using brown sugar (which creates a lovely and subtle salty-sweet flavor), sprinkle it on after removing the kale chips from the oven.