I love the summer for all the delightful salads we can throw together and the abundance of fresh fruit. But I have a particular soft spot for the humble garden pea.
Frozen peas are available year round, but fresh garden peas are delicious and in season now (early June until late July). Mangetout are undeveloped garden peas which are picked while the pod is still edible. Petit pois are baby garden peas that are picked and shelled when small, young and very tender. I love popping fresh peas straight from the pod into my mouth, one of life’s great pleasures.
Peas are so easy to prepare, boiled briefly until just tender merely add a knob of butter and season with black pepper, or maybe add a touch of chopped fresh mint and a squeeze of lemon juice, so simple yet so delicious! The other reason I love our humble pea is because they are so versatile; for the summer months the obvious options are salads or a chilled soups. For our cooler summer evenings when something slightly warming is appreciated look no further than a pasta dish, such as adding peas to an indulgent pasta cabonara or try a wonderful risotto such as the one below.
These are amongst my favourite reci-peas!
PEASHOOT, PEA, MINT & FETA SALAD Serves 2 as a starter
INGREDIENTS 75g Peashoots (washed), Handful of fresh mint (washed and roughly torn),250g Cooked Peas (more if you love them as much as I do!), 150g Feta
METHOD Once the peas have been cooked, run under cold water until cool. This ensures the keep their crispness and won’t overcook. Once cooled, drain and dry off. Then simply mix the peashoots and mint together in a bowl, sprinkle in the chilled peas and crumble the feta over the top. Personally I like this salad kept simple but if you are partial to a little dressing a lemon vinaigrette works well with it.
SUMMERY PEA SOUP Serves 4 warm or chilled
INGREDIENTS 4 Spring Onions (finely chopped), small leek (finely diced), 50g butter, 800ml Chicken stock, 500g fresh or frozen peas, Handful of mint, Crème fraiche or soft goats cheese
METHOD Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the chopped spring onions and leek. Cook gently for about 5mins until soft and transparent. Do not allow to brown as this will give a bitter taste. Add the stock to the pan and bring to a simmer, now add the peas. Bring back up to the boil and allow to simmer for up to 10mins. For the last few minutes add the mint. Allow the soup to cool, then whizz it up into a puree. Check the seasoning, add according to taste. Leave in a fridge for a several hours if serving cold. Merely warm through if serving warm.Crumble some goats cheese over the top or add a touch of crème fraiche before serving.
This next one I would love to claim as mine but will confess it belongs to the brilliantly talented Jamie Oliver. A firm family favourite.
PEA & GOATS CHEESE RISOTTO Serves 4
1 litre organic chicken or vegetable stock
25 g butter
½ onion, finely chopped
100 g higher-welfare streaky bacon, cut into matchsticks
1 bunch fresh thyme
400 g risotto rice
150 ml white wine
200 g frozen peas
freshly ground black pepper
100 g crumbly goat’s cheese
75 g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
METHOD Heat the stock in a saucepan. In a separate pan, heat the butter, then add the onion, bacon and thyme and fry for about 8 minutes until the onion is soft but not coloured. Add the rice and turn up the heat so it almost fries.
After a minute the rice will look slightly translucent. Add the wine and keep stirring.
Now add a ladle of hot stock and a pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a fairly high simmer. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring constantly and allowing each ladleful to be absorbed completely before adding the next.
Chuck the peas into the stock when there are a couple of ladlefuls left, and add them with the stock. Stir until the rice is soft but still has a slight bite, then season with salt and pepper.
Remove from the heat and stir in half the goat’s cheese and the Parmesan. Sprinkle the remaining goat’s cheese over the top and eat as soon as possible while it retains its lovely moist texture.
Tip: Leave out the bacon and use vegetable stock if you want to make a vegetarian risotto.
Stay Hap-pea and enjoy the sunny days!
Love Zoe xx