We love the first fresh peas of the year.
This is my favourite time of year, when the British countryside is bursting into life and the kitchen garden is beautifully under way, with delicate pea tendrils climbing their frames. Be sure to use the peas fresh from their pods, when they’re at their most sweet and delicious.
Pea and chorizo risotto with monkfish (serves 4)
- 3 finely sliced red onions
- 100g chopped chorizo
- 1 crushed garlic clove
- 200g arborio rice
- 150ml red wine
- 700ml hot vegetable stock
- 300g garden peas
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 1 monkfish tail, bone removed
- 50g butter, plus extra for the risotto
- Pea shoots and tendrils to garnish
Fry the onions with a splash of olive oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a low to medium heat until soft. Add the chorizo and garlic and fry for a few minutes more.
Pour the rice into the pan and stir for a couple of minutes, until it’s coated in oil, then turn the heat up and pour in the red wine. Keep stirring until the liquid is all absorbed, then add the vegetable stock gradually, ladle by ladle, until the rice is cooked.
When the rice is almost done, mix in the peas and lemon zest. Add a knob of butter and put a lid on the pan, leaving the risotto to become creamy. Meanwhile, fry the monkfish in melted butter with a pinch of salt—keep basting it with the butter until it’s cooked, which will only take a few minutes on each side.
Spoon the risotto into bowls, top with slices of monkfish, scatter with the pea shoots and finish with a generous squeeze of lemon juice.
More ways with peas
Scallop, pea and pomegranate salad (serves 2)
Toss together a couple of handfuls of rocket, 2 tablespoons of pomegranate seeds and 100g of cooked peas. Shake together olive oil and lemon juice in an old jam jar and pour over the salad. Fry six scallops, together with a few sprigs of rosemary, in a hot pan for a couple of minutes on each side, until lightly caramelised. Divide the salad between two bowls, topping each portion with three scallops. Season and serve as a summery starter or light lunch.
In a large saucepan, sweat an onion slowly in a little melted butter. Add 150g of peas, 150g of broccoli, a sliced cos lettuce, half a sliced spring cabbage and a handful of torn parsley and basil leaves. Pour in enough chicken or vegetable stock to cover, then simmer until the vegetables are tender. Blitz the soup with a stick blender and pass it through a sieve. Pour into bowls, drizzle with a little cream and add a few edible flowers and pea tendrils to complete this delicately flavoured soup.
Pea-and-mozzarella stuffed courgette flowers
Fill courgette flowers with chopped mozzarella and frozen peas. Deep fry for a few minutes, until lightly golden, season and serve with caper berries, a squeeze of lemon juice and mayonnaise.
A creamy tarragon dressing is the perfect accompaniment to this chicken and pea-shoot salad.
Pair peas and salmon with flower-pressed pasta for a seasonally inspired dish.