I love cheese. It’s just something you should know about me. So when this week’s pea theme came around, I was lost in dreams of a goat cheese and pea spread that I (falsely? Can someone find this recipe?) remembered seeing in a cooking magazine from this past year. Yes, I could’ve simply tried my hand at creating said recipe from my imagination, but the rule-follower in me continued on her quest for an equally delicious recipe with instructions she could follow. The final two contenders were Jamie Oliver’s Cheesy Peas by way of Martha Stewart aaannnd, well, Jamie Oliver’s Mushy Peas by way of my FAAAVORITE PODCAST EVER, Spilled Milk. Caro told me about the podcast last summer while I was interning, and I listened to every episode almost every day of my eight-week-long stint. If you doubt my enthusiasm for the comedic tag team of Matthew Amster-Burton and Molly Wizenberg, just ask my parents. Every single time they walk into a room in which I happen to be, Spilled Milk is on. My mom has started calling them my friends. Maybe it’s the post-grad ennui; maybe it’s because they are my new best friends since mine have scattered across the country. But whichever it is, they’re on so frequently that my parents have started inadvertently memorizing the episodes.
Anyway, the duo recorded an episode all about peas where an angry Francis Lam ranted about the legume and his recipe for the mushy variety. It was the only pea recipe I could easily recall, so I looked it up. I don’t like onions (present in the mushy variety), and the thought of food-processed peas was less than appealing, so the moment I saw the cheese in the cheesy peas, the hunt was over.
Making them was easy-peasy. (See what I did there?) You boil some water with an unmeasured amount of salt in it, throw in the peas, drain the peas but save 4 tablespoons of the cooking water and add it back into the pot with the peas after draining, flip the heat to medium and add an entire TABLESPOON of butter and 1/4 cup of parmesan, mix the pot until the peas are coated, turn off the heat, throw in an unmeasured amount of chopped mint leaves with half a lemon’s worth of juice, and call it a day.
The peas were in this unappealing white sauce of melted butter and cheese by the end which was so watery that I just drained most of it. Leaving it at the bottom of the dish of peas may have increased the flavor, the lack of which is one of my complaints with this recipe, but I didn’t miss it. Upon first taste all I could think about was my friend Alexa, two Halloweens ago. Caro, Alexa, our other friend Johanna, and I dressed up as characters from the board game Candyland. Alexa was dressed as a girly incarnation of Mr. Mint, the candycane man from the game, and her favorite thing to do that night was exclaim, “I’m Mr. Mint!” at every possible moment. When I put the minty concoction in my mouth, “I’m Mr. Mint!” came instantly to mind. The most potent flavor in the recipe is the mint, followed by the zingy lemon. The peas were still snappy in texture, not mushy, which I liked, but the butter was so difficult to detect that it seemed unnecessary. I would have preferred more cheese instead of butter, and for the cheese to have been added later to ensure it didn’t melt and sink to the depths of the bowl. To combat this problem I added more cheese on top, because, as I said, I love cheese.