The sign at the market said "give peas a chance." Who can argue with that? Among all the vehement vegetable dislikes that have carried over from my childhood, a dislike of peas is the only one left. Beets? No problem. Brussels sprouts? Roast them with a little balsamic and give me a fork. Yet I still eat around the peas, whether they're suspended in a macaroni and cheese or on the side of a plate by themselves.
Still, the photograph for this recipe, in Jamie Oliver's The Naked Chef (his fava bean and asparagus salad won me over earlier this week), was enticing: big casual crumbles of feta cheese, bright green peas, well-dressed leaves of baby spinach. Turns out, like many vegetables that I first encountered frozen or canned, peas taste a whole lot better when they're fresh! It took me 15 minutes just to slide them from their pods, but I put on a good album and found a rhythm, and actually kind of enjoyed myself. So there—I gave peas a chance.
About the author: Blake Royer lives in Brooklyn and spends most of his free time cooking and writing about it here at Serious Eats and on The Paupered Chef. From 9 to 5 weekdays, he works as an assistant book editor in Manhattan.
- 2 smaller handfuls freshly shelled peas
- 2 handfuls baby spinach
- Olive oil to taste
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper
- 6 ounces feta cheese
Shell the peas and blanch in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, until bright green but not too mushy. Drain and plunge into a bowl of ice water to shock and stop the cooking; this also preserves the color.
Wash the spinach well, then dry it in a salad spinner or on towels.
Combine the spinach and peas in a serving bowl and add olive oil until lightly dressed, then add about half as much lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently, adjusting the dressing if need be. Top with crumbled feta.