So, we are at least 4 months from pea season. Fortunately for us, the pea is one of the most (if not the most) successfully frozen vegetable out there. As a matter of fact, unless you have a garden or live near a farm, you have probably never eaten a really good fresh pea. This is because peas, in a desperate attempt to stay alive after being picked, convert their natural sugars to energy. This process begins immediately upon picking, and within a few hours half the sugar will have turned to starch. So when spring rolls around, buy your peas early in the morning at the farmer's market and then eat them for lunch!
When pining for springtime, you might want to try these delicious mashed peas, which are good on toast or on their own, and probably stirred into hot cooked pasta as well. Another mid-Winter soul soother, on or near toast. My first instinct here was to use ricotta salata, that lovely soft and salty cheese, but I'm glad my local grocery was out: peas and Pecorino go together like, well, like peas in a pod (sorry, I just couldn't resist).
Minted Mashed Peas on Toast with Pecorino - serves 2
6 slices ciabatta bread
good olive oil
1 cup frozen peas
1 tbsp heavy cream (I suppose you could use full-fat yogurt for this as well, although I didn't try. Fat free yogurt curdles when cooked so use at least a 2% yogurt)
6 leaves, or about 1 tsp, fresh minced mint
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 ounces Pecorino cheese
Toast the bread and drizzle with the olive oil. Set aside. Cook the frozen peas in boiling water for 4 minutes and drain. Return them to the pan and toss, with the heat still on, to evaporate any remaining water. Add the cream, mint, and salt and pepper to taste, stirring to heat the cream. Mash with a fork or potato masher. Taste and correct seasonings as needed. Spoon the peas onto toast. Using a vegetable peeler, shave slices of Pecorino over the peas and grind a little more black pepper over everything for presentation's sake. Close your eyes and think of lilacs and daffodils.