The Gardener Who Never Quits
(Sad) Note: At the moment of publishing this post my little mint plant was officially dead.
After a few weeks of not going near the kitchen because of summer vacation, it was time for me to get back to a more balanced road. Because, let’s face it, when you are on vacation, some of those days very far from you kitchen, honest and clean food is not necessarily what’s hanging around with you!
My nephew was staying with us for a month. And he’s 12. He and my daughter were doing what teenagers do best; laugh and not do much! That translated to snacks every couple of hours, edgy foods for tweens like good burgers and creative tacos and sweet midnight snacks.
One of the weekends we headed down to the beach at the west area of the island. Now, I have never had a good hand with plants, but over there there’s a place that sells the most beautiful and healthy herb plants, so every time we are around that area I squeeze in our stuff a replacement of any plant that probably had died due to my lack of magic with them. The plants that have thrived for a few months in my home are from that place. So once again, I decided to stop and get a mint and basil. Particularly the mint was green, strong and beautiful even if it was in a small planter. There was no way that something that was already that good will die in my balcony if I give it the proper care. Exciting and naive times…
Getting back to routine I made this wonderful and easy green vegetables warm salad and added some fresh mint leaves from my just-reopened-garden. The addition was a fresh and summery touch along the peppery notes from the broccollini, the sweetness of the green peas and the heat of the red chili flakes. It also had different levels of flavors and textures because each vegetable is prepared with a different technique.
But as I mentioned at the top, the mint plant died a couple of weeks after I made this recipe. I placed it under shadow, just receiving the light from the afternoon, watered everyday and still it went south. Oh well, maybe another trip to the west coast is needed!
1. You may blanch the green peas for 1 minute in hot boiling water. I just appreciate their flavor when just thawed and warm with the other cooked ingredients.
2. Add some grated Parmesan or a different nut or seeds to create your own recipe.
3. You may also sauté the baby zucchinis and make everything in one pan.
Broccolini, baby zucchini, green peas and mint salad
Total and prep time - 20 minutes
Equipment - Large skillet, oven tray
Frozen green peas - ⅓ cup
Broccollini – ½ lb., 10 stalks approximately
Baby zucchini, cut in halves – ½ lb, 7 to 8 approximately
Extra virgin olive oil – 1 TBSP + 5 TBSP
Fine sea salt – ¼ Tsp + ¾ Tsp + a few extra pinches to adjust flavor
Freshly ground black pepper – ¼ Tsp + ¼ Tsp + a few extra sprinkles to adjust flavor
Red chili flakes – ¼ Tsp
Silvered almonds – ¼ cup
Fresh mint leaves – about 2 TBSP
Pesto sauce – ¼ cup
Mix the green peas with a pinch of salt and let them thaw in a sieve over a fitting bowl.
Preheat oven to 400°. Coat the baby zucchini with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, then sprinkle ¼ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the black pepper. Mix everything and roast in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the zucchinis are al dente. Take out from the oven and let them cool.
Pour the remaining 5 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Place the broccollini stalks on it and sprinkle with the remaining salt, pepper and the ¼ teaspoon of red chili flakes. Toss well and turn on the heat to medium high. After the oil heats a little start tossing frequently until the stalks cook on every side. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes after the oil starts to sizzle, preventing the flowers from getting yellowish.
In a bowl mix the green peas, the zucchini and the broccollini. Toss in the almonds and the mint leaves and drizzle the pesto sauce. Combine everything gently and serve warm. Give it a kick with a sprinkle of sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper.