Celebrating Garden Vegetables — Fêter les légumes du jardin

Fresh Peas

Even if I do not eat green peas often during the year, during the summery season, it must be one of the vegetables that I prefer to prepare. Because when they are fresh, it is a totally different story, n’est ce pas ? When cracked open, their green pods reveal beautiful juicy balls of sweetness, delicious cooked but even better gulped down raw. Perhaps I should add that I have had some fair amount of training and education with peas, which explains my attachment to them. The story takes me back when I was a young girl. Like many children raised in the deep French countryside — dans la campagne profonde — summer activities involved busy hours spent with our respective mums and grand-mothers looking after the abundant summer garden vegetables. Like many of my friends, I used to spend long afternoons cleaning peas with my mum, eating half of them while she had her back turned. I was not allowed to do so, you see, and now that I am older and wiser — as I like to believe — I am not blaming her for that. We would sit on the terrace outside and my technique was always the same. I would secure a large metallic colander between my long legs to collect the fresh peas, whenever they made it there before I ate them. The smaller they were, the juicier and sweeter too. And so, while I sadly do not currently own a vegetable garden, I still manage to get a glimpse of what it is like when I visit our local farmer’s markets. I never thought that seeing a vegetable garden would make me so excited as it does now. Weird things happen, I tell you!

Whenever I prepare vegetables, most of the time, I like to cook them on the crunchier side. The bad memory of canteen meals with vegetables overcooked or drenched in sauce is far gone, merci bien! My rule is safe and works like a charm: sauté vegetables quickly with deliciously fragrant herbs, add a quality olive oil, and you know that you are eating vitamins and nutrients! Cheesy to say, but this feels good! Always!

With a bag of fresh peas and pretty red scallions bought from a farmer, I had to fulfill my sudden craving for a bowl of légumes croquants du jardin. I had green asparagus, zucchinis, carrots and fresh herbs like lemon balm* and tarragon from my garden. And don’t ask me why but I was also dying to reconnect to the feeling of my many afternoons spent picking vegetables — oh, did I forget to add that back then, I used to always find excuses not to do this? My lunch would not be adorned or fancy, and the vegetables would not need to be prepared following a special technique or trick. It would be simple. Because food does not necessarily need to be wearing too many accessories and special dresses. As a friend of mine used to say, when a woman is beautiful, whether she wears a t shirt and a pair of jeans or the most fancy dress won’t make a difference. Beauty comes from within.

Avec les légumes, c’est pareil. L’habit ne fait pas le moine ! (It is the same for vegetables. Don’t be deceived by the piece of garment)

Who ever thought that I would one day compare a woman to vegetables!

Note: I enjoyed eating this vegetable plate with two oeufs sur le plat and a mâche salad.

*If you do not know lemon balm, give it a try, it is a lovely lemony herb, a mix between mint and lemon.

Crunchy Garden Vegetables

Crunchy Garden Vegetables

(for 4 people)

  • 1 medium-sized zucchini, cut in long thin strips
  • 2 cups fresh green peas
  • 1 small fennel bulb, sliced paper thin
  • 3 to 4 young carrots, peeled and sliced in long thin strips
  • 16 green asparagus, cut in small 0.5 ” sticks, tips kept
  • 6 red spring onions, cut in 4
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped thinly
  • Fresh lemon balm, chopped
  • Tarragon, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Steps:

  • Prepare all of your vegetables. Use a vegetable peeler to make the zucchini and carrots long strips.
  • Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan.
  • Add the fennel seeds and garlic and cook for a few min until fragrant, without browning.
  • Add the carrot and zucchini strips, the red scallions and cook for 2 min.
  • Add the peas and asparagus sticks with the tarragon. Continue to cook for 3 min.
  • Add the asparagus tips and continue to cook for 2 to 3 min, until the vegetables reach the texture that you prefer. I like them on the crunchy side, full of vitamins then.
  • Serve with a splash of quality olive oil and chopped lemon balm.
  • Le coin français
    Légumes du jardin juste croquants

    (pour 4 personnes)

    • 1 courgette de taille moyenne, coupée en pelures
    • 250 g de petits pois frais écossés
    • 1 petite bulbe de fenouil, émincée finement
    • 3 à 4 carottes nouvelles, pelées et coupées en pelures
    • 16 asperges vertes, pointes mises de côté et tiges coupées en petits tronçons de 1 cm
    • 6 oignons tiges rouges, coupés en 4
    • 1/2 càc de graines de fenouil
    • 2 gousse d’ail, hachées finement
    • Mélisse fraiche, hachée
    • Estragon, haché
    • Sel et poivre
    • Huile d’olive

    Étapes :

  • Préparez tous vos légumes.
  • Faites chauffer 2 càs d’huile d’olive dans une grande poêle anti-adhésive.
  • Faites revenir les graines de fenouil avec l’ail, sur feu moyen.
  • Ajoutez ensuite le fenouil et cuisez pendant 4 à 5 min (le fenouil étant le légume le plus long à cuire, on l’ajoute en premier).
  • Ajoutez ensuite les pelures de carottes et de courgettes, les oignons tiges, et cuisez pendant 2 min.
  • Ajoutez les petits pois et les tronçons d’asperges et l’estragon haché. Poursuivez la cuisson pendant 3 min.
  • Ajoutez les pointes d’asperges. Cuisez encore pendant 2 ou 3 min, jusqu’à atteindre la texture des légumes souhaitée, selon goût. Je les aime croquants, plein de vitamines.
  • Servez avec un filet d’huile d’olive et mélangez avec de la mélisse hachée.
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    Posted in Gluten Free, Vegetarian | 22 Comments

    22 comments

    1. Au printemps c’est toujours la jardiniere de legumes frais qui me fait de l’oeil! Tres beel recette, saine, equilibree et toute en couleurs!

    2. Lemon balm grows easily in containers as well as in the herb garden. It’s a lovely herb to add flavor to ice cream and sorbet, as well as pasta salads. Love your photo of the peas — they are jumping off the screen!

    3. Moi aussi j’ai des envies soudaines de légumes frais et croquants, il doit y avoir quelque chose dans l’air… quelles belles photos comme d’habitude.

      Je te pose la question suivante si tu le permets: est-ce que tu as des collections de plats, verres et assiettes pour faire des photos? or am I just being fooled by how well you mix and match things.

    4. Bet you enjoyed your breakfast spread, eggs with stir-fried greens :) Using crunchy sugar snap peas definitely adds that tad sweetness to the overall dish. Oo..fennels and lemon balm, what a great finishing touch !:)

    5. Dear Bea,
      Peas are lovely. My partners mom drops a bunch of fresh peas in a simple chicken soup with mint and coriander – freash and comforting.

    6. Hhhm Lemon Balm (la mélisse) is excellent with wild strawberries (try it with a yogourt sorbet it’s… waouh !!) I hope that your food allergy is not too restrictive after all…
      Cheers,
      Fred

    7. J’adore ca, plus ils sont croquants meilleur c’est. Et j’aime bien ton idee de beaute interieure aussi.

    8. Ceci me rappelle ma grand-mère qui avait un immense jardin potager. J’adorais l’aider, mais je ne la voyais pas assez souvent pour que ça devienne une corvée. Les photos sont superbes (comme d’hab)

    9. It’s time for breakfast here and I know I’m odd but I would so love that for breakfast NOW!
      You are so right on about being a kid and gardening and shelling peas. How I thought I hated it . . . what I wouldn’t give to be able to walk my grandmother & aunt’s garden today!

    10. Your story stirs up memories Bea. Just like you my parents would put me on pea shelling duties when I was a child. I didn’t like it one bit then – the only good thing with shelling peas was eating them straight from the pod (and watching the occasional little worms crawl out) – but I do kind of miss it now.
      Your crunchy vegetables look delicious. And I love your first photograph; I cannot help it but I see music in it.

    11. Thanks a lot for your comments, all!

      Hilda. j’ai sans doute, disons voir, une bonne collection, j;aime les objets ;-)

      Jeff, it was actually a big hit for me, everyone’s taste is different, eh?

    12. sorry been so busy with work but i do miss yr stories so much….
      i was in croatia will be back to france soon

      i love peas too fresh ones…..shelling peas can be fun at least at the marche they sell unshelled ones…

    13. I often read your blog to pick up French expressions as well as for recipes! Thought you might want to know, a more exact translation of “L’habit ne fait pas le moine” is “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

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