Smashed peas and creamy cauliflower

The idea for this recipe came from mushy peas, the classic British dish that traditionally accompanies fish and chips. The simplest way to prepare fresh-from-the-shell peas is to blanch them in generously salted boiling water for about 2 minutes. If you are going to take advantage of fresh peas during their relatively short season, let them shine without doing too much to them. I think of my Creamy Cauliflower as a blank canvas on which to add more prominent flavors. The mild flavor of that dish perfectly balances the sweetness of the peas. The herbaceous, warm, and oniony nigella seeds and grassy charred oil make this a lively side dish that bridges winter and spring.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2½ cups shelled fresh peas (a little over 2 pounds in the pod)

Creamy Cauliflower

Charred Lemon–Thyme Oil , for drizzling

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme, for garnish

1 tablespoon nigella seeds, for garnish

Flaky sea salt

Fill a medium bowl with ice and cold water and set aside.

Directions:

In a medium pot or saucepan, bring 1 quart water to a boil over high heat. Add the salt and gently pour the peas into the pot. Blanch until just tender, about 2 minutes. Drain then add to the ice water bath. Drain well after 5 minutes.

Transfer ¾ cup of the peas to a food processor and process until completely smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add the remaining peas to the processor and pulse a few times to create a chunky mixture with some whole and split peas remaining.

To serve, smear the creamy cauliflower over a large serving platter. Spoon the peas around and on top of the cauliflower. Drizzle with the lemon-thyme oil and sprinkle with the thyme, nigella seeds, and flaky salt to taste. Serve.