The humble pea might well be something you keep tucked away at the back of the freezer, ready to put with meals such as fish and chips, when no other veg seems to ‘go.’ But have you ever thought about making something different from this most common of vegetables? There are things which can transform the pea from something which everyone takes for granted, into something which can literally make a meal go from boring to exciting.
Instead of having something like soup as a starter, have you ever tried bruschetta? It’s a great way of using up stale or leftover bread and also can fill the family up before the meal itself, allowing you to cut down on the more expensive ingredients, such as meat or fish. Just cut up some bread into small slices, around the size of a French stick, and dry fry on a griddle pan. When toasted to your liking, rub them with the cut side of a clove of garlic and then drizzle with olive oil.
Mash some raw peas with olive oil, salt and pepper and pile on top of the toast, with some torn basil leaves if you have any. Also delicious with a little Mozzarella on top.
Minted Pea Soup
Peas and mint are a classic combination which taste divine together in this simple starter. Here’s what to do if serving 4-6 people (depending on when you plan on eating it of course):
1 finely chopped onion
1tbsp plain flour
375g chopped lettuce leaves,
500g podded peas
1.2 litres veg or chicken stock
1tsp caster sugar
2 large sprigs of mint
Seasoning to taste
3tbsp crème fraiche or cream if feeling decadent!
Melt butter over a medium heat, making sure there’s enough room in the pan for the other ingredients. Add onion and gently fry until softened. Add lettuce. Cook for a further couple of minutes, making sure to stir. Add flour and cook for 2 minutes longer. Add peas, sugar, mint and stock, and then bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for around 20 minutes, until all the ingredients are soft. Remove mint and throw away.
Transfer soup to a food processor, or use a hand blender, and purée until desired consistency. Return soup to the pan, and warm back through. Check for seasoning, adjust to taste and then stir in crème fraiche, taking care not to boil at this stage in case it curdles.
Try this as a tasty accompaniment to your main course and no-one will look at peas in the same way again. Here’s what to do and what you need to serve 6 people:
2tbsp olive oil
1 chopped onion
2 cloves crushed garlic
450g frozen peas
1tbsp chicken stock
Seasoning to taste
Gently sauté the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes over a medium heat. Add frozen peas, and stock, and season to taste. Cover and cook until peas are tender, which should be around 10 minutes. Simple.