Peas and broad beans, like green summer pearls
JP McMahon: These great plate companions could not be simpler to prepare
‘Peas and broad beans are great by themselves or served with some roasted leg of lamb.’ Photograph: iStock
It’s mid-July and we’ve just got our first delivery of Irish peas and broad beans from Burke’s Fruit and Veg. You can guess what I’m thinking. How do we get it so wrong when it comes to lining up vegetables with their seasons? Next month is the beginning of autumn, the season of fruit and mushrooms. But maybe they’ll be later as well this year. Peas don’t appear in spring. At least not an Irish spring.
Peas and broad beans are great companions on a plate and could not be simpler to prepare. Pod your peas and broad beans and blanch them in salty boiling water for one minute. Plunge immediately into ice water. Peel the broad beans of their outer skin – it tastes like rubber – and then mix together with the peas. Melt a little butter in a pot. When foaming, add the peas and broad beans and a little water (or Champagne if you have a bottle lying around). Cook for one minute and then season with salt and some mint leaves. Eat by itself or pair with some roasted leg of lamb.
If you’re into seaweed (as I am), fresh sea lettuce is beautiful to serve with peas and broads beans. Or maybe a chicken broth with these green summer pearls. Kelp would be nice infused into the broth.
Another great accompaniment to peas and broad beans is sheep’s yogurt. What about a salad of peas and broad beans dressed with sheep’s. I’d probably add sliced, pickled red onions to this for a little acidity and whatever herbs you have to hand: dill, fennel, mint, basil. Just tear with your hands.
There’s nothing worse than over-chopped herbs. I blame TV chefs for this one, or maybe the directors looking for “action”. Your chopping board should not have any colour after chopping herbs. If it does, it means the flavour is on the board and you may as well lick that and dump the herbs.
Most of us discard the pods of the peas but you can make a nice pea broth with the younger pods. Simply remove the peas and place the pods in some water. Simmer for 45 minutes and then strain. Use as a base for soup or serve over a bowl of peas and broad beans.