Thursday, July 2, 2009

Baby Pea Potato Salad

I grew up in a Suburb of Connecticut, not too far from Manhattan, NY. The only hint of farmland that existed on my radar was the giant talking barnyard animals at Stew Leonards, a theme park style grocery store where you could press buttons and watch robotic cows moo and squeeze milk into a carton. The produce would sing songs for you from the rafters, where they were arranged into slow moving perma-smiling bands.

Of course, I wasn't totally isolated from the concept of a farm. My grandfather loved to garden, he planted a vegetable garden for us in our backyard one year. What we didn't lose to the deer we picked, and felt the warm skins of cherry tomatoes, and smelled the garden freshness, and tasted the heat of the sun as we ate them right off of the vine. My Aunt Molly had a garden too, and she had fresh raspberries and a cherry tree. I remember my brother showing me how to walk carefully through the raspberry patch, picking only the sweet ones by pulling them gently straight back so they didn't smoosh in your hands. It was good for us to do this work, because whenever my mother would come home with a fresh carton of raspberries we would eat them before the groceries were put away and then scavenge the grocery bags for signs of more. The empty carton sat, a flimsy stained plastic shell on the kitchen table, and my mother resigned to cleaning up berry juice from the white counter top while her two littlest kids dumped the entire contents of a weeks worth of groceries onto the linoleum floor. She finally started started buying two cartons, but to no avail. We simply ate faster, competing, berry for berry. Eyes locked, fingers moving fast, teeth stained, bellies extending. We were two little children, small even for our age, but we were fierce grocery devourers. Those berries didn't stand a chance.
My mother, being from Wisconsin, would bring home fresh sweet corn for us to shuck. We would sit out on the steps and get corn silk in our hair and on our clothes as we peeled the sticky green leaves into brown paper bags. This gave my mother some reprieve from our kitchen scavenging.
I stand shelling peas (1 cup of sugar snap peas and 1 cup of snow peas), delivering them from their dimpled pods. Every so often scooping the starchy sweet little creatures into my mouth and savoring the garden memories of my childhood pre-dinner adventures. Eugene (the cat) looms on the high counter top, where he flirts with the potential threat of water spray. Tentatively, he leans in. His curiosity trumps the ominous waving of the water gun in my hand. He is guided by the fumes of food cooking and no matter how I shoo him away I know I am fighting a losing battle.
I sat next to a friend and her six month old baby this morning. I asked her how it felt to be a parent. She said she didn't really feel like a parent, more like a best friend to someone who is really needy. She said she never really imagined she could love someone so much, as she offered her hand for the teething child to chew on in the crowded room and wiped a bit of baby puke from his mouth.
When the peas are all shelled, set them into a bowl with 2 diced green onions (I actually used baby white onions with their stems on, there was a bit of an onion bulb). Boil some water in a saucepan and add 7 small to medium sized red potatoes, peeled, sliced into 1/4 inch slices and quartered. Boil until tender~ 20 min, taste them periodically. Drain them and cool. In a frying pan, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add 2 heads broccoli flowerettes and 4 cloves minced garlic. Add 1 head chopped spinach and a little salt. Cook uncovered until the broccoli has desired consistency. Mix contents of the frying pan with the potatoes and cool in the freezer for a few min. Toss into onions and peas. Add 3/4 cup- 1 cup Mayo, 1 tsp white wine vinegar, 1 tsp lemon juice, pepper, salt, and your favorite spices (I used a salt free seasoning mixture).
Enjoy chilled!

Christina's vote: "The most decadent version of potato salad I have ever had"

1 comment: