"Pea Poem" by Terry Covington + Arugula and Pea Salad

Pea and Arugula Salad | Eat This Poem

Traveling for work doesn't always afford leisure time, but I managed to find a few hours to spare in between meetings and event preparations, so I did what I always do when I arrive in a new city: I walked. (Translation: When your room isn't ready yet and it's already past lunch time, you need both wifi and a meal.)

My hotel in St. Paul was across from the river, alongside a long park where free picnic blankets were given out at lunch, and yoga classes were taught in the afternoons. I'd been there approximately 40 minutes, but already St. Paul was proving itself to be a contender for cutest town in the midwest. 

I'd done some research, and my heart was set on The Buttered Tin, a local breakfast/brunch/lunch spot that spoke to my seasonal sensibility and need for healthy comfort food. (It didn't disappoint. In fact, I went there approximately four times during my three days in the city, and it was enough for them to recognize me.)

On the way back I walked by Heartland, and dinner was decided after one glance at the menu. That evening, the pea salad really stole my heart, somewhat unexpectedly. It was a plate composed of entirely green things: sweet peas, peppery arugula, herbs, a light dressing that didn't weigh down the tender lettuce, and fresh mozzarella cut in a thick slab on the bottom. Spring on a plate. I discreetly opened a new note on my phone and typed the ingredients, hoping to find a recreate it when I returned home. Thankfully, I found a poem to pair with it, and the timing couldn't have been better planned. 

Pea Poem

by Terry Covington

I could have closed my eyes
and run my fingers up the vines
to find the pods, so bursting obvious.
Leave trees to other children; I
took my books outside to read
in Grandma's pea patch, crawled
between the rows, and sat
in lagoon green shade
where I could see the house
but not be seen, and watch
the tractors hauling bins
into the orchard, and ate
green peas, popped them
out of their air-filled pods, rare pearls
rolling roundly down my tongue.

Printed with permission from the author.

Here we have a perfect little memory poem. Brief and spare, yet expansive, especially when seen from the eyes of a young speaker small enough to hide in her grandmother's pea patch. The location seems unassuming enough, but the poem really asks a difficult question: Where can I feel safe?

We find the answer in the middle of the poem, where the young girl hides in "lagoon green shade" of a garden where she could "see the house but not be seen." It was a strategic decision, the pea patch, providing privacy and seclusion, yet comfort in knowing the house is still in view. 

It's a universal feeling, perhaps most profound in childhood and early adulthood when we're testing the waters of our independence, longing for freedom yet not ready to leave the nest and navigate the world on our own. But once we're set loose, it's food that can provide comfort when we need it most. Peas or otherwise, there's nothing that can bring us back home quicker than a good meal. 

Arugula and Pea Salad | Eat This Poem #summer #salad #arugula


You can toss the peas in raw or lightly steamed, but I liked the added char of grilling them for a few minutes on a searing hot pan.

Inspired by Heartland, St. Paul, Minnesota

Serves 2-4 

For the dressing
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 small shallot, minced
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Enough arugula to fill your largest salad bowl
1 to 1 1/2 cups snap peas
A few leaves of basil, julienned 
2 slices of bread
Goat cheese
Optional additions: avocado, sunflower seeds

To make the dressing, pour the vinegar into a mixing bowl and add the shallots. Let sit for 30 minutes. Add the mustard and gently whisk it in, before slowly whisking in the oil. Taste the dressing, and add a small dollop of honey if you'd like a little sweetness, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

To make the salad, add the arugula to your largest salad bowl, then heat a grill pan over high heat. Scatter the snap peas in an even layer and grill until charred, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the snap peas into the salad bowl, then add the basil, along with avocado and sunflower seeds (if using) and toss with the dressing. 

If you'd like, grill thick slices of bread then smear them with a generous helping of goat cheese to go alongside.

If you're interested, here are a few pictures from my trip to St. Paul.


Quinoa-Flour Roasted Cauliflower Steaks from The Homemade Flour Cookbook

Quinoa-Flour Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Tomato Sauce

It's extraordinary to think that a blender can change your life, but it can. Sometimes the big investments are a struggle though, aren't they? You spend days, weeks, maybe even months justifying the cost, comparing brands, really thinking about it. Then when you finally take the plunge, you can't remember your life without a high-speed blender.

I speak from experience. My Vitamix is one of the best things to happen to my kitchen. I use it at least once a day, sometimes twice. (Sometimes three times!) I make smoothies every morning, blend the silkiest soup, swirl pesto, and grind grains to powder. 

Quinoa-Flour Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Tomato Sauce
Cauliflower-Quinoa Steaks #vegetarian

Once you start grinding your own flour (with everything from rolled oats to dried beans), you'll have an even more impressive repertoire of recipes at your disposal. To make the journey easier, my friend Erin has written a beautiful cookbook all about cooking with whole grain flours, along with instructions for how to mill them in your own kitchen. (I tested a handful of recipes for Erin, and have been excited to share this book with you for months!)

The Homemade Flour Cookbook is full of approachable, vegetarian recipes using everything from black bean flour to rye flour. In between packing for a big move, I was craving something substantial and filling. A crusty exterior (thanks to ground quinoa), and tender cauliflower smothered in sweet tomato sauce was exactly the fuel I needed to finish packing the rest of my cookbooks. 

Quinoa-Flour Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Tomato Sauce

Quinoa-Flour Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Tomato Sauce

Summer tomatoes are just barely making their presence known at my local farmers' market, so I made the sauce with boxed San Marzano tomatoes instead. My cauliflower was quite large, so I managed to get a few more "steaks" out of it. 

Serves 2 generously

Recipe slightly adapted from The Homemade Flour Cookbook by Erin Alderson

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup basil leaves, julienned, plus more for garnish

For the steaks:
1 large head cauliflower
2 large eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

To make the sauce: Warm the oil over medium low heat. Add the shallot and garlic; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Gently pour in the tomatoes, season with salt and bring to a boil. Simmer and cook for 10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Stir in the basil leaves.

To make the steaks: Strip away excess leaves on the cauliflower. With the stem side down on the cutting board, cut two 1/2-inch thick steaks from the center of the cauliflower, reserving florets as they fall off.

In a shallow dish, whisk together the eggs and cream. In a separate shallow dish, combine the quinoa flour, salt, and pepper. Coat the cauliflower steaks in the egg mixture, then carefully transfer to the quinoa flour and coat. Repeat the process, creating a double crust.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-low heat in a cast iron skillet. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until browned and crispy. Transfer the teak to a baking sheet. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil and repeat with the second steak. Bake for 15 minutes, until tender.

Serve the steaks with the tomato sauce, topped with a sprinkle of basil. 

"Olive Jar" by Naomi Shihab Nye + Eggplant with Lentils and Pine Nuts

As a food blogger, publishing a post is like extending a hand or inviting someone to the table. After months of reading someone's blog, you feel as if you're getting to know a friend, someone you'd like to sit and have tea with, if only you lived in the same city. We often watch each other from afar, sharing in the joys and frustrations of cooking, writing, and finding our place in the food community. Although we've never met, Elizabeth Winslow from Farmhouse Table has helped me overcome my aversion to eggplant, so I'm grateful I stumbled across her recipe when I did. Elizabeth, if you're reading this, thank you!