Kitchen Exhibitionist
The Culinary Quests of a Food Enthusiast Stuck in the Sticks
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Secret Ingredient Peas
Secret Ingredient Peas

It is quite surprising to me that I am about to share a recipe for peas. As a child I hated most vegetables but now as an adult I love all vegetables with one exception… peas.

Perhaps the childhood incident where I was bitten by a Shetland pony as I fed him leftover peas has kept me from eating this popular green vegetable all these years. Or maybe I can blame peas’ banishment from my plate on my little sister, who one evening at the family dinner table pushed a pea up her nose where it lodged into her sinus cavity and had to be retrieved by a doctor in the emergency room.

In any case, even though I’ve never cared for peas myself, most people do enjoy them so over the years I have prepared this vegetable to appease (sorry!) the palates of others. Through experimentation and by following my kitchen instincts I have created a simple recipe for peas that I actually love. Others, whose feelings toward peas also run lukewarm, actually rave about this dish and go back for seconds.

There are two tricks to this recipe. One is in the preparation method and the other is a secret seasoning ingredient. The secret ingredient is just a pinch of a much underrated and little-used spice, fenugreek.

Several years and many jobs ago I was introduced to fenugreek by a coworker. She added it to many dishes with great results, so I ordered a small jar of ground fenugreek from Penzey’s to use in my kitchen.

When I first opened the jar and inhaled its fragrance, I encountered the scents of maple, celery, and a very subtle curry aroma. After years of using fenugreek I have determined that one of its best uses is to turn frozen peas into an incredible side dish. In addition to the fenugreek, the preparation method is also a key part of dish. Simple as it is, I do believe it gives this dish its special flavor and texture.

Lydia’s Secret Ingredient Peas

2 tsp Better Than Bouillon Chicken paste mixed with 2 cups hot water
(or 2 cups quality chicken broth, heated)
2 tablespoons butter
½ tsp ground fenugreek
½ tsp salt
1 lb frozen peas

This dish may be made either in the microwave or via stovetop. Place the hot chicken broth and butter in a saucepan or microwave-safe casserole dish and stir until the butter has melted.

Add the fenugreek and salt and stir until dissolved. Stir in the frozen peas and let them sit at room temperature while you prepare the rest of the meal or do something else. An hour is best, but longer is fine. During that time they will slowly defrost and absorb the flavors of broth and seasonings.

When ready to serve, heat the peas on the stove or in the microwave just until hot. Drain off most of the liquid and serve with a slotted spoon.

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