Most cuisines from temperate regions have stews of spring vegetables. Prepare this recipe for a special occasion, the time of year when fresh peas are at their best. The pale green medley looks particularly artful served in the center of black plates. Serves four.
- 3⁄4 pound fresh peas, shelled
- 16 fresh asparagus tips, about 11⁄2 inches long
- 1⁄2 pound shelled and peeled fava beans
- 4 scallions, chopped into 1-inch lengths
- 4 tablespoons fresh sweet butter
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
- 4–6 ounces fresh soft goat cheese, crumbled
- Salt and fresh ground pepper
Prep all the vegetables. The asparagus tips should be rinsed carefully to remove any sand. Save the stalks for soup or a stir-fry. The thin membranes on the fava beans can be bitter. Blanching for one minute in boiling salted water makes them easier to peel.
- Sauté the vegetables with the butter over medium heat in a pot for about five minutes, stirring occasionally. They should soften a little, but do not brown them. Add about 2 to 3 tablespoons of water and several dashes of salt. Cover the pot and simmer for two more minutes, shaking occasionally.
Add the herbs and mix well. Taste. The French add a teaspoon or two of sugar if the medley is not sweet enough. Add another tablespoon of water if it seems a little dry.
- Plate the hot stew in mounds in the center of four warmed dishes. Add a pinch or two of sea salt and a twist of pepper to each and immediately top with the room-temperature crumbled goat cheese.
The crumbled goat cheese will warm and melt slightly over the vegetables. Its mild tartness contrasts with the sweet vegetables. Serve with a crusty white French loaf or good quality whole wheat bread. Follow with a dessert of lemony pound cake, a huge bowl of strawberries, and really good chocolate.