Michael loves Half Moon Bay for the ocean. I love Half Moon Bay for the English peas. Every year between late May and September, the English peas are harvested and sold in roadside farm stands. This year the crops suffered because of an unusual hot spell the week before our visit and a lack of laborers to pick the peas. According to one of the farmers, the labor force of people willing to pick crops has dwindled in recent years. Growing and harvesting English peas is labor intensive and it can't be done by machine. I hope that farmers in Half Moon are able to keep growing English peas because they are truly delicious. I would keep going to Half Moon bay anyway because I do love the ocean too and Tucker has become a real beach dog.
I did manage to get about 12 pounds of peas on our visit last and we have thoroughly enjoyed them. I made my Pasta with a "P" while in the RV park in Half Moon Bay. We have also enjoyed them blanched and served as a side dish. Perhaps my favorite use of English peas has been in this Orzo and Pea Salad. It is simple and easy to make, tastes good warm or chilled, and it has English peas! If you are fortunate enough to have fresh peas available you could substitute frozen peas, thawed of course, but I would advise against using canned peas. They tend to be mushy and might not hold up all in this salad.
The dressing is a delicious lemon vinaigrette which perfectly compliments the orzo and peas. The Parmesan cheese, while not required, certainly kicks up the flavor. I have made myself hungry now. I am off to enjoy some cold Orzo and Fresh Pea Salad.
- 8 ounces dry orzo pasta (cooked according to package directions)
- 2 cups green peas (fresh or frozen, thawed)
- ⅓ cup diced red onion or shallot
- 1 TBS olive oil
- ¼ cup loosely packed chopped parsley
- ¼ cup loosely packed chopped basil
- ½ cup seasoned rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic (pressed)
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
- Parmesan Shavings for garnish
- Cook the orzo according to the directions on the package but leave it a little al dente. Drain and allow to cool to room temperature.
- In a small skillet heat 1 TBS olive oil. Gently cook the onion or shallot until just barely tender. Remove from heat and drain on a paper towel until cooled.
- In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, green peas, onion, parsley, and basil, and grated parmesan.
- In a small bowl, combine the rice vinegar, olive oil, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Whisk until well combined. Add to the pasta mixture and toss gently. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. Add shaved parmesan for garnish.