Spring Pea Purée with Preserved Lemon

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Spring peas require patience. You have to take the time to go to the farmer’s market to find them and then you have to remove them from their pods. If you have a lazy afternoon ahead and you want to sit on your front porch rocking in a chair and chatting with neighbors, by all means, shell a bunch of peas. Me? When a recipe calls for fresh peas vs. frozen peas, I always opt for frozen peas. Because they’re always so good and sweet. And because I don’t have a porch. And because I’m lazy. Stop judging me.

So last Thursday, when my friend Zach was coming over for dinner, I recalled a Spring Pea Puree (actually called a “Lemony Pea Mash”) from The Canal House by way of Bon Appetit. Though the recipe asks you to make it with 2 pounds of shelled peas, I said “HELL NO” and chose the frozen pea option. I have no regrets.

Look how simple this is: in a pot? Throw in a garlic clove that you quarter, 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves (don’t bother to stem), 1 tablespoon olive oil (I used more than that), a pinch of salt, and 1/2 cup of water….

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Add 2 cups of peas and simmer 5 minutes for fresh peas and 2 minutes for frozen peas.

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Drain and save the cooking liquid.

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Place the peas in a food processor and process until smooth.

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Now scrape that puree into a bowl and adjust it with lots of stuff. Start by adding a tablespoon of chopped preserved lemon peel (I used some of the flesh too, and more than a tablespoon), a squeeze of lemon juice, Aleppo pepper if you have it (crushed red pepper flakes if you don’t), salt, and more olive oil.

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Once you mix, if it’s really stiff, you can use some of that reserved cooking liquid to lighten it up (like you do with hummus). I didn’t have to do that, though, because I was very happy with my puree. Wouldn’t you be happy with this?

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It was sweet from the peas, acidic from the lemon, and slightly spicy from the pepper.

To serve, cut thick slices of sourdough bread and heat a cast iron skillet on high heat until very hot. Add the bread to the skillet and press down so more bread touches the hot surface.

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When you flip, you should have some nice color on it.

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Notice I didn’t add any oil to the skillet. This is my new indoor grilling technique, something I’ll write about tomorrow, wherein I really try to replicate the effects of the grill rather than simply frying something in hot oil. Because there’s no oil in the skillet, the bread really takes on a “grilled” flavor. Actually let’s take “grilled” out of quotes: grilled flavor.

At that point, I rubbed the bread with garlic and brushed it with olive oil.

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I topped it with the spring pea puree and sprinkled everything with more Aleppo pepper.

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This is a great way to start a spring/early summer dinner party whether you use fresh peas or frozen peas or both. If you can’t find preserved lemon, just skip it. Cook your peas with garlic and parsley in water, blend up with olive oil and lemon juice, and serve on grilled bread. Voila: easy peasy.

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