Monday, July 11, 2011

A Spoonful of Spring

Spring may be one of my favorite seasons, culinarily speaking, if only because it means that "the race is on." While summer heralds the arrival of a cornucopia of produce so delicious that it barely requires cooking, and fall has it's tasty treats including apples, pears and all manner of gourds, spring has something that no other season does: a very limited growing season for each and every product. Spring's bounty comes and goes in extremely short waves (not unlike the weather of the season itself), usually starting out with asparagus and artichokes in the first few weeks of the season, then transitioning into ramps, spring garlic and all sorts of allium family members, followed by my personal favorite spring fare, beans and legumes. Fresh peas, sugar snap peas, fava beans and garbanzo beans tend to have the shortest presence at the market, available for about two weeks before leaving me wanting sooooo much more.

And so, when they finally make their appearance, I do all that I can to elbow my way into the farmers market tents and fill my bag with whatever I can get my greedy little hands on. Usually I venture towards the fava beans, which are shockingly elusive and tend to be the first thing to go, if they show up at all. The English peas, or shelling peas, foe of many a child, are usually what I look for next. If you've never had fresh peas straight from the pod, I highly encourage you to seek them out. They have a firmness that simply can't be found in frozen (and certainly not canned) peas, and a natural sweetness befitting the season, with a tiny hint of that earthiness found in other spring veggies. They cook super quickly, and in my mind, barely need more than to be blanched for 2-3 minutes.
While I'd love to serve my peas with a simple a swig of olive oil, a touch of mint and a hint of ham, I share my table with a green pea-averse partner, and that means a little more doctoring is required. 

So, I basically made the aforementioned dish and used it as a stuffing for a wonderful (and, if I do say so myself) really beautiful tortellini. Served in a light vegetable broth with a topping of watercress salad, these little pockets of spring would fool anyone into eating their veggies. And with a little help from the grocery store, I managed to make the ravioli in less than 30 minutes (if you don't already have wonton wrappers in your refrigerator, you definitely should—you can even keep them in the freezer until you need them). See below for the recipe, followed by a mini-tutorial on a tortellini folding technique that's super easy to master. And remember, you can make extra tortellini and keep them in the freezer for an even quicker weeknight meal. Just place them on a sheet tray until frozen, then pop them into a zip-top baggy or Tupperware and you're good to go! 

Spring Pea and Prosciutto Tortellini

16-20 wonton skins
1/2 cup shelled English Peas
3 Tbsp finely diced or 3 slices thinly sliced prosciutto
1 1/2 tsp fresh mint, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp ricotta cheese

1. Place a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Add peas and cook for 2-3 minutes until just cooked through and bright green. Remove to a bowl using a mesh strainer, and keep the water boiling (you will use it for the tortellini later).

2. Add prosciutto, mint and ricotta to the peas and stir to combine. Taste for salt and pepper, season accordingly, then mash the mixture lightly with a fork. Fill each wonton skin with a teaspoon of filling and fold closed (see illustrated folding technique below). Add to the boiling water and cook about 2 minutes until ravioli are al dente. Serve in broth or tossed with melted butter and topped with grated parmesan. Enjoy!  

How to Fold Tortellini and Wontons

1. Place a teaspoon of filling onto the center of your wonton or ravioli skin.
2. Using a brush or your finger, wet the top and two sides of the wrapper with water.
3. Fold bottom edge over the top of the filling.
4. Seal edges by pressing down on all sides, carefully removing any air from the filling.
5. Fold the top sealed edge back slightly over the filling.
6. Pull the two corners opposite the folded top around towards each other.
7. Wet the corners so they stick.
8. Pinch corners together.
9. Presto! Repeat.


1 comment:

Kathryn said...

Mmmm...I can't wait to try this. Although I'd be happy with peas with a hint of olive oil and mint...mmmmm also.