Don’t those peas look amazing?! I’m surrounded by fresh, local produce this time of year – from our CSA, the Evanston Farmer’s Market on Saturday, Green City Market on Wednesday and Saturday, Federal Plaza Market on Thursdays, the Downtown Farmstand Tues-Friday, and finally – the small, yet excellent Prudential Plaza market on Tuesdays. Pretty much, I’ve got a market within walking/biking distance pretty much anyday I want one.
Tuesday afternoon, I wandered over to the Prudential Plaza market, even though I knew I didn’t need anything and would be getting our CSA box the next day. But one of my favorite farms, Nichol’s is there, and they love to talk veg, so I left the cube to go visit. (Nichol’s also has the cutest farmers, and I’m not immune to their charms.) They were passing out samples of their English peas, and there was no way I could resist their sweetness.
Sweet English peas are right up there with strawberries, in vying for the best of June eats. Growing up, mom and I make a weekly trek to Middleton’s Berry Farm early in the morning before the sun was too hot, to pick whatever was harvesting that week. June meant picking strawberries to make strawberry shortcake for my birthday, and picking and shelling English Peas. There is nothing like the green candy sweetness of peak peas.
Peas make you work for the treasure within those smooth, green pods, and it is truly amazing to see the giant pile of pea shells that stack up to make just one cup of peas. I was a champion pea-shucker as a kid, and Mom and I would take the bag of peas out to the pool, stand in the pool at water’s edge, and shuck peas into a big Corelleware bowl…we may have eaten a few along the way. Shucking peas in the pool is definitely preferable to standing in the kitchen and shucking!
With this week’s peas, I just quickly steamed them for 2 minutes, then plunged them into ice water to stop them from cooking, and then mixed them in with our usual quinoa salad that is a lunch-standard around here. I think I’ll need some more of Nichol’s amazing peas on Saturday, from the Evanston Market.