The Amazing Pea Puree

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This recipe is one of the most delicious things we’ve ever made in our kitchen.  I’m serious.  How can a pea puree be that good and be something adults want to eat, instead of just babies?  Because yes, I agree, it looks like baby food.  But let’s be honest with ourselves: any high-end restaurant is selling you baby food under the name “puree” and you LOVE it.  This stuff is creamy and almost like a really soft whipped mashed potato consistency.  I know I’m fighting an uphill battle trying to make this sound appealing, so I’ll stop.  Just make it.  Especially if you want something different in your week night repertoire.  You certainly have some frozen peas in your freezer.  You certainly have a head of garlic.  The only thing you may not have on hand is heavy cream.  This puree has been a simple accompaniment to our meals, the base sauce and flavor for seared scallops (as pictured) and every time Olive basically licks her bowl.  Heck, we all do.  Seriously, it’s that good.  And we have Nigella Lawson and her awesome book, How to Eat to thank for this gem.  In her book, this recipe didn’t even get it’s own title or section, but it was sandwiched in alongside a fish recipe and we felt so lucky to find it.  We’ve made it at least four or five times since!

If you’re looking for a great baby food, toddler-friendly food or high class side dish for a dinner party, this is it!

Pea Puree*
serves 4 as a side dish

2 1/2 cups frozen peas
6 cloves garlic, left whole
4 TBS butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper

In a medium pot, bring salted water to boil with the garlic cloves.  Boil for about 5 minutes and then add the peas.  Boil the peas till they are very tender and then transfer the peas and garlic cloves to a food processor.  Add the butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper to the peas and garlic and pulse until smooth.  Drizzle in the heavy cream while the processor is running.  Taste to see if it needs more salt and then serve immediately!  Easy peasy!  Har har.

*adapted from How to Eat

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Parsnip Puree with Coriander Brown Butter

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I remember the months of making Olive’s baby food with great fondness and happy farewells.  While it was fun to show her new foods, I was all too glad to stop blending and pureeing things like chicken pot pie or beef stroganoff.  Because while certain foods look nice pureed, others look like…gray.  And gray just isn’t an appealing color in the food world.

Whenever I see recipes for purees, I instantly think, “That’s baby food” because it was to me.  I never followed the rules of how to feed your baby what at what age, except for the standard “biggies” like honey, peanut butter and strawberries.  I just always blended up whatever we were having and it always worked out great.  Her first foods weren’t bland cereals, but full flavored vegetables.  Olive ate and enjoyed nearly everything my trusty immersion blender wanted to create and I think, because of that, she isn’t very averse to strong flavors, spices and seasonings.  I always seasoned her baby food.  I’d hold back on the salt more than what my palette would prefer, but I felt that her food should taste good and that if we enjoyed it, she’d enjoy it!

Today’s recipe fits a lot of current trends.  Substitutions for those evil, fear-inducing potatoes?  Check.  Browned Butter?  Check.  Calling baby food a puree and feeling fancy while serving it for dinner?  Check.  I made this dish last night as a side to lamb chops and roasted broccoli.  (Olive gnawing on the lamb chop ranks up there with Greatest Moments Ever.)  We all enjoyed it and I think it will make an appearance again during the fall season.  Those crusty bits that Olive called bacon?  Yeah, that’s roasted garlic.  Totally awesome.  If I could do anything, I’d make parsnips not so sweet.  And then, by George, they’d actually taste like mashed potatoes!  🙂

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Parsnip Puree with Coriander Brown Butter*
serves 4-6 as a side

2 lbs parsnips, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
5 TBS unsalted butter
2-4 TBS milk
Salt and fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp ground coriander
2 cloves chopped garlic

Boil the chopped parsnips in salted water until tender.  Transfer to a food processor, or to a large bowl if using an immersion blender.  Add two tablespoons of butter, the milk and salt and pepper and blend until smooth and creamy and no chunks remain.  Add a dash more milk if you want.  Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

In a stainless steel skillet over medium heat, add the remaining three tablespoons of butter, coriander and chopped garlic.  Swirl the butter around until bubbling and starting to brown.  Keep the garlic moving around so it doesn’t burn.  Remove from heat and pour over the parsnip puree to serve!

*recipe from Real Simple magazine this month, in which they gave us four entire weeks of dinner planning.  I’m not going to squander that work done for me, so we’re eating through Week 1 and enjoying it very much.  Especially the lack of effort part.