Basil and flower-pressed pasta with peas and salmon

Pair peas and salmon with flower-pressed pasta for a seasonally inspired dish.

We see the humble pea all year round, so it’s easy to forget the charm of the delicate tendrils climbing their poles as they grow in the spring. I particularly enjoyed pairing them with this flower-pressed pasta to create a pretty and very seasonally inspired dish. Don’t be put off––it’s much easier than it looks.

Basil and flower-pressed pasta with peas and salmon (serves 4)

400g ‘00’ grade pasta flour
A pinch of sea salt
4 free-range eggs
30 edible flowers,such as violas
A bunch of basil
1 spring onion, finely sliced
Butter for frying
300ml double cream
Juice and zest of half a lemon
300g smoked salmon
200g peas, boiled
A handful pea shoots
A few more edible flowers for decoration

Pour the pasta flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre and add the salt. Crack the eggs into the well and then, using a fork, beat the eggs and gradually begin to pull the flour in. Slowly incorporate more and more of the flour and, once it comes together in a shaggy pile, tip it out onto a clean surface. Knead for about 10 minutes until you have a smooth and elastic ball. If in doubt, keep kneading. Cover the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Remove the pasta from the fridge and break off a quarter, re-covering the remainder. With your pasta machine on the widest setting (on mine, it’s number one), roll the dough through, fold it in half and put it back through the pasta machine. Roll the dough through the machine another 8–10 times. Put the dough through the machine again, using each thickness setting until you’re at the thinnest. If you get air bubbles, return to the previous setting until the pasta is smooth again.

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Once you have a very long, thin sheet, arrange edible flowers and basil leaves over half of it and then fold the other half over the top so the edible flowers and basil are sandwiched between them. Press gently together and run through the pasta machine on the widest setting, then once again on the next setting. Cut the pasta into rectangular sheets of about 10cm by 15cm and drop in boiling water for a few minutes to cook them. Make the sauce by gently frying a spring onion in a little butter. Add the cream, seasoning and lemon zest and then whisk in the lemon juice. Keep warm until ready to use.

Arrange a single sheet of pasta in each bowl, add smoked salmon and scatter the boiled peas over it. Top with pea shoots and then drizzle with the lemon-cream sauce and decorate with a few flowers. Serve immediately with Parmesan on the side (unless you have Italians joining you, in which case, they will be horrified at the thought of cheese with fish, but I rather like it).

More ways with peas

Pea-and-mint frittersPea-and-mint fritters
Using the back of a fork, mash 2 cups of cooked peas. Mix with freshly chopped mint, seasoning, 2 beaten eggs and a couple of tablespoons of plain flour and add a splash of milk. Heat oil in a frying pan and drop in spoonfuls of the mixture. Fry both sides until gently browned. Serve hot with a chilli relish and salad.

Speedy pea-and-potato samosas
Fry some chopped spring onions in a splash of neutral oil for a couple of minutes and then add a cup of peas, a chopped green chilli, a teaspoon of garam masala, a small grating of ginger and half a teaspoon of curry powder. You may need to add a little water. Add a cup of cooked and diced potato and a small handful of chopped coriander. Mix it all together well and taste for seasoning. Brush a sheet of filo pastry with melted butter and spoon a dollop of mixture in the corner. Fold the sheet over and over so that you have a triangular parcel. Repeat with the remaining sheets. Bake in a moderately hot oven for about 20 minutes or until golden. Serve hot with chutney.

Spring soup
In a large saucepan, cook 4 chopped spring onions, 2 chopped courgettes, 3 handfuls spinach, half a head of broccoli, 2 cups of peas, 2 cloves of garlic and a handful of fresh basil in a splash of olive oil. Pour vegetable stock over them to cover and simmer until tender. Use a stick blender to purée, then add a splash of single cream before serving.

** Read more recipes from Country Life