As I mentioned over on my Facebook page, I’ve been feeling a bit uninspired lately. This is mainly due to the fact that we’re trying to lose a bit of weight – eating lots of vegetables, avoiding starch and alcohol, and getting more serious about running (we’re looking at another 5K in April, then our first 8K in May). We’re eating simple preparations of food for the most part: roasted vegetables, sauteed greens, lean protein, fizzy water and tea. Not much to talk about, really.
But yesterday was Brigid, also known as Imbolc, and we always have a little private celebration to observe the return of the light and what tends to feel much more like the start of a new year than “normal” New Year. I wanted a dinner that was light, non-starchy, but a little fancy and evocative of spring, and I found one in Nigella Lawson’s new book (I love Nigella, reading her is like eating potato chips for me). It’s a very simple supper for two consisting of pan-seared sea scallops and a puree of peas flavored with creme fraiche and Thai green curry paste (a take-off of British mushy peas, I assume). I added a side of roasted asparagus, which was perfect with the other flavors, and opened a bottle of rich, buttery California chardonnay.
Not the prettiest dish in the world, but extremely good. And easy!
The sauce, a mixture of tomato, cream, green chile, cilantro and spices, is straight from a Madhur Jaffrey recipe, but she wants you to serve it with prawns. We made it that way for a while, then hit on the idea of stirring in lightly cooked peas instead of shrimp. We’ve done it this way ever since.
Ever since our last cooking class with Casey Schanen, I’ve been thinking fondly of his ravioli stuffed with fresh peas and feta, served in a lemon beurre blanc. We received a ravioli making kit for Christmas, and fresh shelling peas just appeared in the market. Our choice for Sunday dinner was clear.
For the filling, I wanted to use Gothberg Farms fresh chevre, because I am still newly in love with this cheese and I want to use it in everything. This particular ball of cheese had a distinctly grassy note entwined with its sweet milkiness. It seemed made to go with peas.
First, we shelled our peas. I blanched them in boiling water for two minutes, then drained and cooled them. I set aside a few peas to go on top of the ravioli, but mashed the rest lightly with a spoon before adding the goat cheese along with some salt and pepper. In retrospect, a little lemon zest would have been nice as well. And perhaps a little chopped fresh mint. Next time…
Frozen vegetables are a great resource for when you haven’t made it to the grocery store lately. We go through rather a lot of storebought frozen spinach, okra and peas, and I freeze my own berries, rhubarb, tomatillos and roasted peppers. Frozen corn, though, I have issues with. Whether I buy it or shuck and freeze it myself, I just never get around to using it. This may explain the half-full bag of corn that’s been sitting in our freezer for the past three years. Oops.
Thankfully, it is now gone, thanks to Monica Bhide. We had a vindaloo for dinner last night – a great pantry dinner for us, as we always have pork, chiles and vinegar on hand – and were trying to come up with a vegetable side that wouldn’t involve shopping. Jon opened up Monica’s excellent book Modern Spice and found a pea curry that we were able to adapt to the ingredients on hand, and it just happened to use frozen corn as well as peas. Finally, I could use up that ancient bag! It had more than a little freezer burn and a ton of ice in it, but the prospect of actually making use of it was too compelling.