Our dining room table had it’s swan song last week. I hosted the weekly girl’s night dinner and once everyone had left, the table was wiped clean one last time, titled it on it’s edge, legs removed and it shortly will be making it’s way to a new home (thanks Craigslist!).
We’re upgrading and that is very exciting, but in the moment when the rug was cleared and there was a big empty hole in our living room, I was surprised to find myself a little sad. I think Reggy (our
dog child) was rather sad or shocked as well because he left his usual perch and curled up in the center of the rug. He looked so lonely and small in that big empty space.
It was surprising because I’ve been on a one-woman crusade against this table from pretty much Day 1. It had grooves on the top that I hated cleaning. It wasn’t made of real, solid wood. It wasn’t super rustic, or made of mixed industrial elements, or modern, or any of the other lofty ideals I had in mind. What it was, though, was a table, that had worked pretty well in our space and lifestyle, where we had shared countless meals and conversations. That table had worked hard for us and it’s frame had hosted countless meals, including Christmas and Easter dinner in our first, tiny one bedroom apartment.
I joined Reggy on the floor, with a glass of wine of course, and we reflected on the memories, giving it the send off it deserved.
As far as last meals go, this one was pretty perfect. Inspired by the season and what was already in the fridge. Nourishing and simple yet still intriguing. Easy to share and got my friends to try new things (yes, sardines are delicious, and you should try them too). There’s been a lot of good meals, good food, just good stuff in general shared around that table and I think it went out on a high note.
When it comes to fresh peas, like so much other delicate, spring produce, I’ve found the secret is to touch them as little as possible. The pickled strawberries are from the previous post and everything else I picked up at Trader Joe’s or it was already in my fridge. The whole spread can be put together within 30 minutes and should serve 6+ people as a meal, many more if it is just as an appetizer spread.
Make a bruschetta bar this weekend. Have some friends over, drink wine and make memories. Do it outside, if you can, or huddle up around the dining room table and see what combinations you can come up with!
A Simple Pea Salad
10 ounces fresh shelled peas (see Note below)
1/4 teaspoon salt
A handful of mint (I ended up adding more than what was in the picture above), sliced into ribbons
1 garlic clove, diced
1/2 a lemon, juiced
A drizzle of olive oil
Special Equipment Needed: None
Blanch the peas for not more than 90 seconds in boiling water. Transfer immediately to a colander and drain under cold water. The peas should be bright green and still have the slightest crunch. Mix peas together with the rest of the ingredients and let marinate a couple minutes. Taste and add additional salt, mint or olive oil if desired.
Note: Trader Joe’s sells fresh shelled English peas. Trader Joe’s for the win again! To get 10 ounces of shelled peas, you’d need about 1 lb of peas in the pod and they will take some time to prep. You can use frozen peas but it won’t be the same. Fresh peas have a crispness to them that you can’t find in frozen peas. If you make this with frozen peas, you might want to consider mashing everything together and making more of a pesto instead of a salad.
Wine Pairing: Rosé, duh. As my annoyed husband would say, “Nicola is trying to make rosé happen”. Yes, I am because it’s delicious and, no, I’m not referring to white Zinfandel. That stuff does suck.
For the Bruschetta Bar (proposed combinations below, but most ingredients can mix and match):
- Pea salad, mint and shaved Parmesan
- A block of feta and pickled strawberries
- Smoked salmon (thanks to Shutterbean for the tip on the hot smoked salmon from TJs), creme fraiche or sour cream, and dill
- Sardines, apple, and pesto
- N’duja (for more info on what that is, see this post, but prosciutto will work too), any cheese you like, and arugula
- 2 baguettes, sliced thinly on the diagonal, brushed with oil and grilled or roasted in the oven at 400 deg F until lightly toasted
And one last shot from my Instagram (follow me!) – I enjoyed leftovers the next day and they were equally delicious, though the peas do loose a bit of their vibrant color.