Whenever the first peas are ready to harvest, I think of Thomas Jefferson, who was not only a President and an architect, but also a gentleman farmer and connoisseur. He had an extensive vegetable garden at Monticello, and introduced a great many varieties of plants to America from his travels in Europe, in addition to receiving seeds from others throughout the United States. Unquestioningly, the pea was his favorite vegetable and he had recorded over 30 varieties in his garden book, according to Marie Kimball’s Thomas Jefferson’s Cookbook. There was a custom among gentlemen gardeners in Virginia to compete for the honor of serving the first dish of green peas in the spring.
This is my first serving of peas from our garden and CSA. I grow delicate Indian yellow peas in my own garden, along with pale green snap peas. I also pick snow peas and snap peas at our CSA and English (shelling) peas at a nearby farm. These will be steamed with lettuce leaves and served simply with a little olive oil and salt.