One packet of peas, four meals
Most of us have a bag of frozen peas lurking in our freezer, but it’s rare that we ever let them be the star of the show. It’s a shame, because there is nothing better than the earthy sweetness of peas, and they love being combined with other flavours, whether it’s zingy lemon zest or fragrant curry leaves. Smashing them means they really absorb their surrounding flavours. They also add a beautiful colour and texture to your plate.
How to make smashed peas
625g freshly-podded peas or defrosted frozen peas 75ml olive oil
1 Put the peas in a food processor and blend until you have a coarse puree, adding the oil as you go. Transfer to a container, cover and keep in the fridge.
1 The bright brunch Smashed peas and parmesan on toast with poached egg and pea shoots (on the cover)
This is a really simple, clean-tasting plate that lets the peas shine.
1 garlic clove 150g smashed peas 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle 2 tbsp grated parmesan or pecorino A small handful of mint leaves, shredded ½ lemon 4 thick slices of rustic bread, such as sourdough 4 eggs 4 handfuls of pea shoots Salt and black pepper
1 Finely chop half the garlic clove, then crush with a pinch of salt. Stir this into the peas, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil, fold in the cheese and mint, and add a squeeze of lemon (keeping the rest of it for the pea shoots). Season to taste.
2 Put a pan of lightly salted water over a low heat and break the eggs into ramekins. When the water is gently simmering, use a spoon to create a whirlpool in the pan, then drop 2 of the eggs into the middle. Cook gently for 2-3 minutes, then scoop out, drain on kitchen paper and repeat.
3 Toast or grill the bread, then very gently rub the slices with the other half of the garlic clove.
4 Quickly dress the pea shoots with a little squeeze of lemon, a dash of oil and a little seasoning.
5 Spoon the smashed peas over the toast and sit the poached eggs on top. Scatter with the pea shoots, drizzle with a little extra oil, and serve.
2 The spicy starter Pea, curry leaf, mustard seeds and gram flour pancakes
These tasty little numbers take seconds to whip up, but never fail to impress. The combination of Indian spices and peas is a winner. Top with a fried egg for something more substantial.
125g smashed peas 1 green chilli, seeded and finely chopped A handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped A small handful of fresh curry leaves ¼ tsp turmeric 1 tsp brown mustard seeds 200ml water 150g gram flour Olive oil, to fry Yoghurt, to serve Chutneys, to serve
1 Heat your oven on a very, low setting. Put the peas in a large mixing bowl and mix in the chilli, coriander, curry leaves, turmeric and mustard seeds. Add a generous teaspoon of salt.
2 In a separate bowl, slowly pour the water into the gram flour in a steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth. Stir the pea mix into the gram batter, and a few drops of water to loosen, if necessary, to the consistency of double cream. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
3 Put a large frying pan over a medium high heat and add a splash of oil. Swirl it around to coat, then pour any excess into a cup. When the pan is hot, add 1 tbsp of the mix and immediately spread it out a little with the back of a spoon. After about 30 seconds, you will see bubbles appearing in the centre of the pancake and the edges will be light brown. Use a spatula or palette knife to flip the pancakes over. Cook on the other side for 20 seconds or so until golden, then keep warm in the oven while you make a few more. Sprinkle with a little salt, if needed, and serve with yoghurt and chutneys as a starter.
3 The moreish mezze
Pea, feta, mint and parsley fatayer
These are great as part of a mezze or as a pre-dinner snack as they are delicious both warm and cool.
Makes 16 For the dough
225g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting ½ tsp quick yeast 100ml warm water ½ tsp salt 2 tbsp olive oil
For the filling
½ garlic clove 150g smashed peas 100g feta cheese, crumbled A squeeze of lemon juice 2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted A handful each of parsley and mint leaves, finely chopped 1 tbsp olive oil 1 To make the dough, pour the flour into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Sprinkle the yeast into the well, then pour the warm water over the yeast and add the salt and olive oil. Mix with your hands until it comes together, then transfer to a lightly-floured work surface and knead the dough until smooth and elastic.
2 Put the dough in a clean bowl, cover it with a clean tea towel and put it somewhere warm.
3 Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/ gas mark 6. Finely chop the garlic clove, then crush with a pinch of salt. Transfer to a bowl, then stir in the peas and other filling ingredients, mix well, and adjust the seasoning to taste.
4 Divide the dough into 16 equal-sized pieces and roll them into balls. Line a baking sheet with baking paper. On a lightly floured surface, flatten the balls one at a time into thin discs, about 2mm thick.
5 Divide the filling mixture, spooning equal quantities into the centre of each. Dampen the edges with a little water, then bring together the adjoining edges so that you have a triangle shape. Pinch the edges together. Put on a baking tray and cook for 8-12 minutes until golden. Allow to cool and relax slightly before eating.
4 The midweek supper
Pea and lemon zest gnudi
Pronounced “nudey” these are literally nude ravioli. They’re wonderfully light-textured and much more interesting and delicious than their cousin gnocchi. You need to make these 48 hours in advance so that they hold together in the water.
There is nothing better than the earthy sweetness of peas. They also add a beautiful colour and texture to your plate
500g fresh ricotta 200g smashed peas 100g grated parmesan, plus extra to serve Zest of ½ lemon 300g fine semolina Extra-virgin olive oil, to serve
1 Put the ricotta in a sieve over a bowl and leave to drain for at least an hour.
2 Mix the ricotta with the peas, parmesan and lemon zest in a bowl, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
3 Pour the semolina over a large tray. Using slightly wet hands, roll the ricotta mix into small, ping pong-sized balls and gently place them in the semolina. Gently roll them to cover in the semolina. Beware, this bit can be messy! Make sure they don’t touch each other in the tray as they’ll stick. Once you’ve rolled all the mix, put the tray in the fridge and let them sit for 48 hours (and no longer than 72), shaking them every now and then in the semolina, until they form a delicate protective skin.
4 To serve, bring a pan of salted water to the boil, then turn down the heat and poach the gnudi in simmering water. They will float after a few minutes, at which point they are done. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with a little extra parmesan before serving.