Cooking Italy: On my own with Sautéed Peas~

31 05 2010

One of the things our hostess and creator, Angela of Spinach Tiger, always reminds us, is to cook what’s available.  With that in mind, and vines weighed down with swollen pods, I ventured into unknown territory with Sautéed Early Peas with Olive Oil and Prosciutto, Florentine Style, by Marcella Hazan, as presented in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, which is the book we’ve been working from for just about a year now.

The weather has been unseasonably mild for northern California, and I was away last weekend, so my edible pod peas had a whole week on me.  Once I was back home, it rained for 4 days straight, mostly when I was home, so getting out to pick was either going to be a wet experience, or one put off for another day.  The putting off worked out just fine.

I needed a little something to go with steamed King Crab legs tonight…a salad would do, but one of the 80° days we did have caused most of the lettuce to bolt.  That which is left is somewhat bitter, and not quite what I want to put beside crab legs.  Then I saw the poor neglected pea pods.  I picked all that I could see and then checked again and picked another big handful.  Off to the cookbooks to see what there is to choose from.

My first thought was minted peas, but for the heck of it, I grabbed up Marcella Hazan’s book.  Olive oil…check.  Garlic…ooh…check.  Prosciutto or pancetta…check, I had pancetta.  Parsley.  Just bought some yesterday.  We’re on!  Sauté the garlic in the olive oil until nut-brown.  Remove…hmmm.  Okay…if you insist, but…  Add pancetta, then peas with a bit of water, add a few twists of pepper, then cover, simmer, oh my.   This is too easy.   And what great results!  It was a really great accent, both in taste and in color, to the the crab.  We decided this is a keeper recipe.  It’s a great way to treat peas instead of merely boiling them.  The recipe can be used with frozen peas as easily as with fresh.  What are you waiting for??

By the way…that garlic that was removed from the pan?  It makes a lovely, crunchy little garnish!