I had a phone date Sunday night with my dear friend Jo who lives in San Francisco. We don’t get to see each other much, maybe once a year, so I cherish our phone calls. We met 8 years ago while working at a non-profit. I still remember her standing in my office doorway as someone introduced us. She was a breath of fresh air in an often times stale work environment. Over the years, she has been someone I look up to and lean on for support. And oh how she makes me laugh. She has listened to me speak about my struggles with depression and lack of self-worth. And even though she herself does not suffer from this affliction, she always conveys a sense of empathy and compassion. Being able to share my feelings with Jo without her becoming squeamish is a really nice feeling of validation. It usually takes me a long time of knowing someone before I completely open up and share my inner demons. It is getting easier to share now that I’m in my late 30’s. I still care what other people think of me, just not as much as I used to.
Seeing as that it is like Antarctica in NYC this week (not overly dramatic at all), I wanted to make a warm, comforting dish that was still healthy. I know, I know. Many of you are tired of seeing bacon included in almost everything these days. I do think the line needs to be drawn somewhere. Perhaps somewhere near bacon cupcakes. But you know how bacon and brussels sprouts are a fantastic combo? Well, it turns out bacon and peas are another great combo. The bacon gives this dish a nice smoky richness, and the aromatic thyme is a perfect complement.
This recipe is inspired by a pizza I had years ago at a restaurant in the Meatpacking District. It’s strange to think that I once ate in the Meatpacking District. The neighborhood seems to have an imaginary red velvet rope around it now, allowing only beautiful Millennials into its vicinity. Ah, youth. So this pizza: it was hands-down one of the best gourmet pizzas I had ever tasted. It had bacon, thyme, Gruyére, cipollini onions, and garlic. I became obsessed with it for an entire year after tasting it. I started making it anytime I had friends over. This is a much healthier version of that pizza. Even with no bread and cheese, it still has the flavor profile of my former obsession. I’m sure you could swap in any other vegetable if you are not a pea fan. Cauliflower or brussels sprouts come to mind as an easy alternative. Enjoy!
Peas With Bacon and Thyme
Serves 4 to 6
6 thick bacon slices, cut in half lengthwise, and again crosswise into ¼-inch pieces
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 (10 oz.) packages frozen peas, not thawed
1/2 cup water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes.
- Spoon off half of bacon fat, then add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for an additional minute.
- Add peas, water, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon thyme and cook, covered, stirring occasionally until peas are tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in butter and remaining tablespoon thyme.