I love peas and always have. As a kid I’d get a can of British baby peas for my birthday and I thought how special that seemed. With time I’ve grown like the peas right out of the pods and look forward to spring when they become available.
One of the signs that spring has gotten firmly entrenched is the arrival of spring peas at the farmers markets. The piles of bright green pods might still be a few weeks away in other parts of the country but here in San Francisco, we are lucky to have them now. While it’s great to have them, the peas inside may not have had time to fully mature yet. Certainly most pods have large peas inside, but some may need another week or so before they are at their best.
Despite that minor issue, you shouldn’t put off buying them now. The peas right out of the pods are sweet and grassy in flavor and have a pleasant crunch to them. A quick dunk of shelled peas in some salted boiling water and then dressed with butter is how most people serve them. Most people unfortunately just toss the pods in the compost. The pods shouldn’t be wasted because they have an equally pleasant crunch and flavor. This recipe uses both with a spring onion bought form the same vendor at the Galleria farmers market in the Financial District. Instead of cooking them fully, this recipe just barely lets the heat from the other ingredients warm them so they retain their fresh crunch and flavor to contrast with the other flavors.
• Approximately 1 pound snap peas
• 1 small spring onion with half the stalk
• 4 slices or 2 oz bacon
• 1 tsp fennel seeds
• 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
• Olive oil as needed
• Salt and pepper
1. Shell peas from pods. Stack pods and cut into ¼” slices. Set both aside.
2. Cut onion into ¼” dice. Slice stalk as you would a leek.
3. Cut bacon into ½” pieces. Over medium heat, render the fat out of the bacon with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Take your time here so the bacon doesn’t burn.
4. When the bacon has started to brown, add the onion and stalk and sauté until just translucent.
5. Add vinegar and deglaze the pan with the liquid. Continue to cook until reduced by half.
6. Turn off heat and add pea mixture. Toss quickly and taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.
A version of this article also appears at http://www.examiner.com/article/spring-peas-and-pods-with-spring-onions-and-bacon