PROVO, March 24, 2016 — With Spring in full bloom this Easter, bring some of the green outside to your table with a dish that is familiar, but by adding fresh diced mint, is also surprisingly delicious.
When planning your table, presentation is almost as important as tasted and this dish adds a burst of color that will liven the senses.
The recipe can be made with frozen peas and green beans that you might have in the freezer for a last minuted side, however, fresh young English peas and beans are always a spring time favorite.
If you have a fresh green grocer, ask for the more elegant version of these veggie favorites: petit pois and haricot verts which are more flavorful, but require a bit more preparation to remove from the pods for the peas and to trim and cut the haricot verts, which you can do the day before, placing in a vegetable bag or loosely wrapped in a plastic shopping bag with a moist paper towel or two.
If the vegetables dry out, or shrink, in the fridge place in a bowl of ice cold water for a 5-10 minutes before cooking.
However it is well worth the time and effort for the fresher, snappier taste.
The secret to this dish is that you do not boil the vegetables, instead cooking them over butter and a moderate heat until warm and al dente (not too soft – the goal is crisp, not mushy). If you need a little moisture to help steam them, use a steamer then toss in the butter and mint, or just cover the bottom of the pan with water.
For the nicest presentation, do not overcook the butter, instead melting but not overheating so that the butter separates and becomes translucent. Also do your best to not brown the butter.
To the melted butter added a couple of squeezes of lemon, and if you feel necessary a small amount of water for steaming, which really brings out that green hue.
Mint is most easily chopped by tossing the leaves (not the stems) into a glass measuring cup and chopping vigorously with kitchen shears.
You will need:
1 ½ tablespoons butter
4 handfuls petit peas
2 handfuls skinny green beans
1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped mint
salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter over medium high heat. Throw in peas and beans. Sauté until bright green and crisp tender. CHEF TIP: If you can flip them in the pan do, it works better than stirring and it won’t break the delicate vegetables, releasing the inner liquids.
This will keep them bursting with flavor and crisp, versus mushy or stringy.
Stir in mint, sauté one minute longer. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Variations: Add peeled bulbs of fresh green onions to butter and mint, sautee to soft before adding peas and beans. Garnish with frazzled onions (recipe below), French onions, crushed eggs and/or sprigs of mint,
Frazzled Onions Garnish
- Begin by slicing sweet onions (Vadalia or Mayan) very thin. Using a mandoline will ensure that each slice is exactly the same thickness. You can also slice the ends of the onion and on side to flatten, then carefully using a sharp knife, slice thin layers. The thinner the better – you are not making onion rings.
- Place onions in a baking dish and cover with buttermilk for at least one hour.
- Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and set aside.
- Heat oil to 375 degrees.
- When the oil is hot, grab a handful of onions, throw into the flour mixture, tap to shake off excess, and plunge into hot oil. Fry for a few minutes and remove as soon as golden brown. Place on paper towels to remove some of the excess oil. Repeat until all of the onions are fried.
- Can make the day before, draining the onions well, removing all oil before allowing to completely dry. Before serving, lightly toast in a toaster oven to make them warm and crispy again.