I have peas running through my veins. They have miniature feet that scamper about – running like a marauding horde, as budding crocuses – a breakthrough from blankets and wintry soups. Their small voices are pulsing with this rain, arms open, welcoming snowmelt onto our drought-parched valley. This rain is thunderous and rare. I watch it hopscotching through glorious days of San Francisco sun. They remind me of childhood when the rainy monsoons would flood the streets of Saigon so I can make runaway flotillas out of my floppy shoes. I didn’t mind. I made a water slide out of that driveway: a smooth slippery stone that’s soft enough for carefree rumpus. Are there better ways to get wet than in the joys of playtime?
Now, I am older, and the stones are harder and the rain is cold as ice. I put on my rain boots, rain hats, and rainy attitudes by turning on my heater. The watery sky feels too cold, and I am, alas, as sensitive as a pint of over-ripened raspberries. I make myself tea and scones in order to read books about the outdoor rain. Inside, I have bits of sunshine in “salads” – a dry, green affair for indoor rains.
You’re probably thinking I call too many things salads. I do, but only because I have no idea what that means, in parlance. To me, it’s an amalgamation. To my mouth, it’s all the things – crunchy, sweet, salty, sour, aka, a good way to start a meal. Ask a French eater, and they will say otherwise. In fact, this thing, this salad, is more French and less salad, and some people might call it a “side” as well but I think it deserves so much more than a gardener’s border. It’s nearly raw asparagus, laid tidily, under an eggy gribiche: an emulsion of eggs and quick pickled peas, a slight alteration in celebration of the temporal joys of fresh garden peas. Put it at the center of your plate with bits of tarragon. For me, it’s the perfect way to step out onto the spring rain. One day, I’m going to go splashing in those watery drops, umbrella-less and all.
Refrigerator Pickled Peas (do this ~ two days before making gribiche)
2 c fresh shelled peas
2/3 c apple cider vinegar
1 1/3 c boiling water
2 ts salt
6 gloves of garlic, sliced thinly
~ 10 tarragon leaves per jar
+ Clean your jar and equipment with a 10 minute hot water – or, run it through the dishwasher.
+ Place equal amounts of garlic into two small jars followed by tarragon leaves. Then, put in the peas.
+ Dissolve the salt in the vinegar with hot water. Pour this onto your peas and store, sealed, in the refrigerator for a day or two. These are great additions to any salads, especially potato salads.
Pickled Pea & Tarragon “Gribiche”
Gribiche, the traditional form is served with fish, chicken, or asparagus. I also like it on green beans and potatoes, depending on the season. Feel free to use other pickles – this one is for the peas! For the skillet “grilled” asparagus, I coated them in olive oil and cooked them on low heat in my skillet until they turned a deep vibrant green – greener than raw asparagus!
4 hard boiled eggs, yolk separated
1 raw egg yolk
1 1/2 dijon mustard
1 1/2 lemon juice (original recipe uses white wine vinegar, but I like lemon/asparagus a lot)
2 TB capers, chopped finely
2 TB pickled peas, chopped finely
1/2 c grapeseed oil (olive works in a pinch)
tarragon, cut with scissors, for garnish
+ To prepare your cooked egg yolks, press it through a find mesh sieve, then set aside.
+ Chop cooked egg whites, capers, and pickled peas to similar consistency. I like mine pretty smallish. Toss these together with the cooked egg yolks and set aside.
+ To begin making the emulsion, whisk the raw egg yolk with the mustard and lemon juice. Once that is well-blended, add a pinch or two of salt and fresh grated pepper. Then, start a slow drizzle while whisking vigorously. Continue until you are completely out of oil and have a homogenous emulsion. Gently, fold in the cooked eggs and pickles. Taste and salt as necessary.
+ Serve on top of a stack of asparagus with tarragon. I use scissors bc the knife was bruising the herbs. Add some extra peas on top. Enjoy!