Not Your Mama’s Peas & Carrots

June 26, 2008

If you haven’t noticed, it’s been a little vegetabley around here this week. That would be because Kevin is on a business trip in Vegas for the week, surrounded by the ding of slot machines, the whoosh of black jack cards being dealt and the sweltering desert heat. He is “working,” I suppose, but he’s also planning to watch the NBA draft in the sports book and being wined and dined in fine restaurants. I, on the other hand, am surrounded by a fortress of books and flashcards and my head hurts from the alarming number of rules I’ve crammed into it over the past few weeks of studying for the bar exam. But, at least I have my vegetables. And they include mushrooms, beets and all sorts of treats that Kevin wants no part of. All in all, I’m doing quite well all by my lonesome, thankyouverymuch.

I’ve decided to embrace the fact that my version of “When The Cat’s Away …” involves practice exams and fungus and lots of vitamins. And today’s recipe is a point in case. Today, I bring you peas and carrots. Now, before you click away to sexier, sweeter blog posts, let me at least plead my case. First, I get where you’re coming from. The thought of “peas and carrots” conjures visions of institutional cafeteria food at its worst: mushy, gray and convincing kids everywhere that hot lunch is a no-no.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

But these peas and carrots are so not like that. First, the vegetables themselves were unbelievably fresh. No cans here: these came straight from the Wicker Park Farmer’s Market. The sugar snap peas, nestled in their wooden box, were crisp and smooth and a crazy kind of sweet. The baby carrots were tiny, dwarfed by their leafy green plumes. And, people, their wrinkly skins were red. (Swoon.) Neither were these vegetables boiled into mush; instead, I quickly steamed them, rendering them almost al dente. And then, instead of drowning them under pats of butter, I tossed them in a slick of heated sesame oil and showered them with toasted sesame seeds. A squeeze of lime juice and a scattering of sliced scallions later, it was time for dinner. For one.

Also, this low-key week has left me with a little bit of extra time on my hands, which has allowed me to spend some time enjoying the great new sites—such as FP Daily and Food Gawker—that have cropped up in the wake of Tastespotting (which recently had a cryptic update suggesting that the site will soon be resurrected). Plus, I finally got around to creating a Flickr page, and I hope you’ll visit me there. I also made some updates to this site’s About page, including a photo (gasp!), because after nearly 200 posts, I thought it was time for a proper introduction. Nice to meet you.

Sesame Peas and Carrots

1 1/2 cups of sugar snap peas, trimmed
1/2 cup baby carrots, scrubbed and peeled (if necessary)
1 1/2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
1 scallion, minced
wedge of lime

Steam peas and carrots over a pot of rapidly boiling water for about 3 minutes, until the vegetables are bright and just tender. Meanwhile, heat the sesame oil in a small skillet over medium heat. When the vegetables are done, transfer them from the steam basket into the heated sesame oil. Stir quickly to coat the vegetables with the oil. Remove to a serving plate and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds and scallion. Serve with a wedge of lime.

Yield: 1 main dish sized-serving; 2 side dish-sized servings

6 Responses to “Not Your Mama’s Peas & Carrots”

  1. eggsonsunday Says:

    Kristin – nice to “meet” you! 🙂 Those carrots are eye candy — the deep red, and the petite size! Just gorgeous. Beautiful against the green pop of the sugar snaps. (Oh, and I can imagine how great they tasted – anything with sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds is a winner in my book.) — Amy

  2. mari Says:

    Kristin, it’s so nice to stumble across a blogger from my old (third) hometown! Let me tell you Wicker Park didn’t have a farmer’s market when I lived there! I had to laugh when I read that your boyfriend isn’t into fungus or beets, and I wondered if he might be a distant relative of my boyfriend…haha. Those peas and carrots look sooooo good, they made my mouth water. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Amanda Says:

    I am so jonesing for some peas and carrots! There is something to be said about a pure and simple dish like this. First of all, why are sugar snap peas so good?! Their bite and small buds make it one of my favorite vegetables. And don’t even get me started on carrots…. I am so curious about your neighborhood and the Chicago area. Maybe someday you can snap some local photos ? I’ve never been to Chicago but it’s on my go-to list.

  4. Pam Says:

    I always eat my sugar snap peas raw but you have inspired me to cook them. Nicely done.

  5. Henri Says:

    Kristin – I have a friend joining me for dinner out of town this evening. The entree was already decided on but I couldn’t pick a side! I saw this great idea and thought it would be nice, but I know my guest doesn’t care much peas. So I experimented substituting asparagus, otherwise keeping your recipe intact and the result was quite good, I’m sure she’ll be pleased. Thank you for the idea!

  6. Amy: The carrots made me think of your purple carrots. So pretty.

    Mari: If you have any tips for overcoming the anti-beet/fungus factor, please do let me know. I’m glad you stumbled across the site. Thanks for commenting.

    Amanda: I think a little Bucktown photo shoot could be arranged … I loved your San Fran posts, so this should be fun.

    Pam: I hope you give it a try. If so, let me know how it goes. Oh, and I had to do my very best to stop from eating all the snap peas before cooking them.

    Henri: I bet asparagus would be lovely! I’m so glad it worked out for you. Enjoy your dinner tonight!

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