Green Pea and Radish Tartines
Once upon a time, there was something called I Hate Peas – French fries with ridges that you baked in the oven, aimed at kids who wouldn’t eat their vegetables. They supposedly had all the nutrients of peas without whatever it is about peas that apparently some kids don’t like. They didn’t last long, and I (or my mom) was fortunate because I always loved vegetables, including peas.
More recently, a few well-meaning cookbooks gave parents advice on how to sneak vegetables into other foods, like butternut squash in macaroni and cheese, which, to quote Raymond Sokolov, means that “many kids would never know the joy of crusty, traditional mac and cheese.”
In addition to being very familiar with the joy of crusty macaroni and cheese, the pleasure of fresh peas us something that I never want to miss either. They’re sweet, crunchy, and bright-tasting, and during their fleeting season, it’s nice to find a way to highlight them, like in these green pea and radish tartines.
I love peas – always have, always will. And I’m not alone: When I was scooping up shelling peas at the market, I chatted with another guy doing the same, and we talked about how much work they were to prepare. But fresh peas are definitely worth it, we agreed, before we each of us walked away with a big bag of them.
These tartines put fresh peas front and center. There’s expression, or theory, that says, “The easiest solution is the best.” Which goes along with something I’ve learned from French cuisine: You don’t need to do, or add, a whole bunch of stuff to food – just let good ingredients shine. Both seem to apply here; shuck some peas, don’t do too much to them, and let them speak for themselves.
And because I’m so open-minded, other things I’ve learned are that the word tartine, comes from the French word, tartiner, to spread. I’ve also learned the joys and versatility of fresh goat cheese, that I should never be without French breakfast radishes in my kitchen, fresh herbs are better when used abundantly, and that I should always have a loaf of good bread on hand, for toast and impromptu tartines.
This is one of the messiest blog posts I’ve ever done. A while back someone asked me to “Stop using tweezers to place things on plates.” I was a professional cook for a few decades, and now a home cook, but I’ve never used tweezers to place things anywhere. (My tweezers stay in the bathroom, and I’ll spare you a description of what I use them for in there.)
The upside to my tweezerless post is that you have permission to make a mess yourself when you make, and eat, these. Peas will roll, herbs will tumble, oil will drip, toast will char. So just a heads-up that theses aren’t your mother’s tartines, if you mom tried to disguise vegetables, that is. They’re for pea-lovers, like us.