… make a puree!

Days of triple digits have wreaked havoc on our garden. The beans have burned out; the peas have pooped. I managed to salvage a few handfuls of snowpeas yesterday, but they were sad and shriveled little things.

The season’s last snowpeas looked sad on the vine, but they made a vibrant puree.

Still, throwing them on the compost heap seemed heartless. Could they be saved for dinner?

Absolutely! I cleaned the peas and put them in an inch of boiling, salted water with a tablespoon of butter. Covered the pan and boiled them until they were meltingly tender (10-plus minutes). Using a slotted spoon, I moved them to the food processor and added salt, pepper, about a teaspoon of whole tarragon leaves and a bit of the cooking liquid. I turned the processor on and whirred the peas until they were smooth, adding a slow stream of olive oil to loosen them up a bit. Finally, a squirt or two of lemon juice for a hit of acidity.

The snowpea puree was pale green, thanks to the long boil. (A shorter boiling time would have yielded brighter results, but the texture would have suffered.) It was sweet from the peas’ natural sugars and just tinged with tarragon’s subtle licorice flavor. We dolloped spoonfuls on a bed of risotto. We could have plopped our puree atop crostini, too, or used it as a sidedish to grilled fish.

Now that I have my basic technique down, I can puree almost any vegetable. Cauliflower seems a natural, particularly if I drizzle in browned butter instead of olive oil. I can’t wait to puree broccoli or my garden carrots. I may even make a batch of both, then swirl the velvety mixtures together. (Art for dinner, anyone?)

When the heat turns your veggies into lemons, don’t despair.

Puree away!