Seasonal ingredient Fresh peas are the taste of summer
June marks the long-awaited arrival of English peas on stalls at local farmers' markets and on the shelves of the better high street greengrocers.
For many of us, peas are usually eaten from frozen and there are some – including top chefs – who claim frozen peas are just as good as fresh.
Of course, those people lucky enough to grow their own in the garden or allotment will know just how incredible freshly picked peas can taste. They are one of the highlights of the English summer.
Fresh peas are delicious when incorporated into a seasonal salad, such as this one created by Bristol chef Dan Powell of The George Inn, a food pub in Abbots Leigh.
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Dan combines fresh peas and broad beans with crumbly goats' cheese, salty prosciutto and creamy quails' eggs for this light and easy-to-make lunch dish, which would go particularly well with a chilled glass of white wine or cold beer in the garden.
Pea, broad bean, prosciutto, and goats' cheese salad with quails' eggs
6 quails' eggs taken out of the fridge
an hour before using
150g freshly podded peas
150g freshly podded broad beans
20g pea shoots
half a radicchio, shredded
10 mint leaves, ripped
4 red radish, finely sliced
4 slices of prosciutto, ripped into strips
200g Tymsboro goats' cheese, broken into 'olive' sized pieces
Bring a pan of water to the boil and using a slotted spoon, gently lower the eggs into the water. Boil for two and a half minutes (very runny) to three minutes (almost hard) depending on your preference and refresh in iced water immediately to cool and stop the cooking.
When they have cooled completely, carefully peel and cut in half. Bring another pan of lightly salted water to the boil and carefully pour in the peas. Boil for 2-3 minutes until tender, then refresh in iced water.
Repeat the process for the beans. When the beans are cold, you will need to 'pop' them out of their skins by gently squeezing one end (point them into a bowl or you'll end up chasing them around the kitchen).
Place the rocket, pea shoots and radicchio into a bowl and lightly dress with vinaigrette.
Place the peas, beans and radish into another bowl and lightly dress with vinaigrette also.
Place half of the dressed leaves in a serving bowl and scatter half the peas/beans/radish over. Repeat with the remaining leaves and the peas/beans/radish.
Finish by placing the torn prosciutto, quails' eggs and goats' cheese on and around the salad.
Pea, bean, ham and goats' cheese 'Gypsy' eggs
300g freshly podded peas
200g freshly podded broad beans
1 onion finely diced
small knob of butter
100ml whipping cream
100ml ham or chicken stock
1 tbsp chopped tarragon
1 tbsp chopped chervil
200g cooked and shredded ham
250g Tymsboro or other light, goats' cheese, broken into 'olive' sized pieces
1 baby gem lettuce, shredded
1 bunch spring onions, roughly chopped
8 large, free range eggs
salt and pepper
You will also need 4 x 10cm (4 inch) ovenproof dishes
Pre-heat your oven to 200c/400f/gas mark 6. Bring a pan of lightly salted water to the boil, 'blanch' the peas for 30 seconds and refresh in iced water.
Next blanch the broad beans in the salted water for 30 seconds and refresh in iced water also.
'Pop' the beans out of their skins by gently squeezing one end.
Melt the butter in a pan, add the diced onion and sweat without colouring until the onion has softened. Add the cream and stock, bring to the boil and reduce slowly by a third. Carefully pour half of the peas and beans into the cream/stock and cook for approximately 3-4 minutes or until tender.
Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender and 'pulse' until the mixture resembles mushy peas. Season and add the chopped tarragon and chervil.
Put the 'mushy' peas into a bowl and stir in the shredded ham, remaining peas and beans, lettuce, goat's cheese and spring onions.
Divide the mixture into the 4 dishes, crack 2 eggs on each, cover with foil and bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes, depending on how you like your eggs.
The George Inn, Manor Road, Abbots Leigh, Bristol, BS8 3RP. Tel: 01275 372467.