Indulge: Sweet Pea Mash
Recipe and Photos by Carolyn Cesario
Early spring is a time of patience, excitement, and frustration for New England’s farmers and gardeners. We are anxious to reconnect to the earth, to the soil that is slowly and deliberately revealed by the strengthening sun. In spite of our enthusiasm, we know we must be patient, for few crops can withstand New England’s tempestuous April weather. One of the few crops that can withstand such fluctuations (including the occasional morning frost) is the pea pod.
The planting of peas, in many ways, signifies the start of spring. Quite easy to grow, within weeks of planting it’s not surprising to find a plenitude of bright green pods...a happy return for minimal effort, and an encouragement to continue your garden through the summer.
In many ways, peas are the ideal transition crop. They loosen up the soil, making it more amenable for the high-maintenance summer crops to come. Peas also help our bodies adjust to the light foods of the warmer season, as we transition away from the hearty root vegetables of winter to fresh, crisp summer fare.
Ultimately, peas visually embody the essence of spring, with their shiny bright green hue and their plump, cheerful form. This mash, a take on guacamole, highlights the sunny, sweet notes of fresh peas with bright mint, earthy coriander, and decadent avocado.
Enjoy this dish at the first harvest of peas, a celebration of spring in New England.
1⁄2 cup sweet peas, shelled (~30 fresh pea pods)
3-4 sprigs of fresh mint
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1⁄2 lemon, juiced
Blanch peas in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Drain and set aside. Using a mortar & pestle, grind coriander seeds, mint and a pinch of sea salt. (If you don’t have a mortar & pestle, opt for ground coriander and use the back of a spoon to muddle the mint.)
Transfer mixture to a bowl, and add the peas and avocado. Mash gently with a fork to combine. Stir in lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy alongside tortilla chips or toasted bread!
(If fresh peas aren’t available, frozen peas would work as well; simply blanch them as you would fresh peas)