Rain pounds down outside; flowers and herbs are growing, but haltingly; it’s the most tumultuous May I can remember in all my time in France. Farmer’s tear out their hair at the cold night temperatures which stunt growth, yet they’re thankful for the rain after near-drought in early spring.
So what about the produce?
Well, first, I need to genuflect to the peas. Judging by their gentle, green sweetness, I’d say the produce is doing just fine. The new potatoes are buttery in flavor, the onions hot and juicy, and the asparagus deserves a hymn. To celebrate the splendor, I made a quick little braise the other day with these seasonal stars. The recipe is here, so you can celebrate too.
You can mix and match, add strips of air-cured ham, or even crack eggs into this mixture a few minutes before everything is tender, so they poach/bake. Try it plain first, though. You’ll feel as though you’re eating spring.
SIMPLE SPRING DISH
Note: the skin of new potatoes rubs off under water, so you can clean and skin at the same time.
1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound new potatoes, skin rubbed off and rinsed, cut into 1/2-inch (1.25cm) rounds
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces (250g) spring onions, trimmed of stems and roots, and cut in half
8 ounces (250g) asparagus, cut on the bias into 2-inch (5cm) lengths
12 ounces (360g) peas, shucked, to give a generous 1/2 cup
10 fresh mint leaves — optional garnish
1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted add the potatoes and stir, shaking the pan, so the potatoes are coated in butter. Season with salt and pepper, cover, and let cook until the potatoes begin to turn brown, about 5 minutes.
2. Shake the pan so the potatoes turn and shift in the pan, add the onions, season lightly with salt and pepper, stir, cover, and cook until the potatoes are almost tender through and the onions begin to brown, 4 to 5 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice.
3. Add the asparagus and the peas and 1/4 cup (60ml) water, shake the pan, season lightly with salt and pepper, cover, and cook until the asparagus and the peas are bright green and tender, about 5 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice.
4. Mince the mint leaves.
5. Remove the lid and sprinkle the mint over the vegetables. Allow any remaining water to evaporate as you shake the pan and gently stir the vegetables. Remove from the heat, adjust the seasoning and serve.
2 main course servings, 4 side-dish servings