I usually plan my meals around seasonal vegetables. So, as we officially enter summer, I choose preparations using the wonderful vegetables and herbs growing in my garden and available at the Zweck’s farm stand.
The short pea season is almost over but I scored a big bag of English peas to prepare with fresh green onions, mint and butter. Shelling peas is a pleasurable, contemplative task ─ splitting the shell, rolling out the peas clinging to one side, sampling the occasional sweet ball.
First, I sauteed a couple chopped green onions in butter ─ about 1 tablespoon ─ until softened, added 2 cups of peas and a little chopped mint, (saving the rest of the two tablespoons for a garnish), barely covered the peas with water (used just enough to prevent burning) and cooked until tender. This takes only a few minutes so watch carefully to retain the lovely silky texture of the peas. (If you only have frozen peas, cook very briefly.)
To accompany the peas, I made smashed potatoes, a recipe I devised for days when we crave the potatoes served with a roasted fish at Basta in Boulder. Our dinner also included a grilled pork tenderloin, and golden beets with anise that were lingering in the fridge. (Recipe in my April 30 post, Sunday Lunch.)
For the potatoes, cut a pound of Yellow Finn or red potatoes into pieces and steam until tender, 15-20 minutes.
In a bowl large enough to hold the potatoes, have ready a vinaigrette made with a tablespoon of coarse mustard, two tablespoons red wine vinegar and 1/4 cup of olive olive, salt and pepper, all to your taste. I used a bowl made by Janis Hallowell.
When the potatoes are tender, tumble them into the bowl of vinaigrette and smash. Leave various size pieces, don’t get carried away! Add a handful of green olives cut in half─ I like Castelvetranos. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Pork tenderloin is delicious, and easy to cook as Bud is the grill master in our house. I made a dry rub in the spice grinder (an old Braun coffee grinder dedicated to spices and herbs) with fennel seeds, hot red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt. I left the meat in the fridge for the afternoon, removing it an hour before grilling. Bud cooked it to an internal temperature of 140°, about 20-25 minutes on a hot gas grill.
Top: Tasting, oil on canvas, 18 x 18 inches.
(A portrait of Nick Helbrun in his garden.)