Is anyone else stupidly excited that it’s spring now?
Ahem. Winter seemed particularly long and crappy this year, and while I do love winter vegetables, I’m absolutely bursting for the opportunity to eat delicious spring pods. Fresh beans, fresh peas. Yes.
This week I was considering sharing my undying love of broad beans with you, but I forgot all about it and ate them without bothering to take any pictures or write down what I did with them. So instead we’re going to talk about peas.
For too long peas have been relegated to back of the freezer emergency food (or ice pack) status. You may be thinking that peas are something to be pulled out of the freezer, poured into the microwave with a bit of water and nuked for a few minutes – at which point they resemble shrivelled green mush – and dumped on a plate next to roast lamb and vegetables.
I’m not judging you if you do this, we’ve all been there. I’m just asking you to look at your life, look at your choices.
Anyway, peas are deserving of better than frozen ignominy. There will always be situations where frozen peas are useful (look they really do make great ice packs), but if you are ready to elevate peas from a silent walk-on role in your dinner to the main attraction, you’ll want to buy them still in their pods.
Peas are best from spring into early summer. Choose nice fat little pods, because fat little pods have fat flavoursome little peas.
Divorcing the peas from their pods is a bit of a shit job, but it’s fairly mechanical work, so do it while you’re watching TV or something.
The recipe I have for you this week is a spring bean salad that I’ve adapted from the Maha cookbook (which is really quite good).
- 50g coarse burghal
- 1 tin butter beans
- 1 tin borlotti beans
- 2 cups peas, removed from their pods
- 2 handfuls mint
- 1 handful parsley
- 2 garlic cloves
- 500g green prawns (that is like, 10-12), peeled and deveined
- 1 tablespoon sumac
- Olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Salt, pepper
Put the burghal in a bowl and boil some water in a kettle. Pour the boiling water over the burghal until covered and leave it to sit for 15-20 minutes or so. Use your discretion. If the burghal absorbs all the water and it’s still unacceptably crunchy add more boiling water.
Tip the tinned beans into a colander and rinse well. Buy organic tinned beans if you can, they seem to taste better. When rinsed, put them in a large salad bowl.
The peas – which you have already podded while sitting on the couch watching TV just before commencing this recipe – are what makes this salad. If you overcook them it will be ruined. To combat this, simply fire up the kettle again, pour a generous amount of boiling water over the peas, and leave them to sit while you chop up the herbs.
Pick the leaves from the mint and tear them with your fingers. Chop the parsley, not too finely. Put them in with the beans. By now the burghal should’ve softened, so drain that (I find a fine mesh strainer or flour sieve works well) and throw that in with the herbs and beans.
Test your peas. When you bite down on one it should burst in your mouth (euphemism) – it shouldn’t taste raw, but under no circumstances should it be mushy. Put them in with the burghal, herbs and beans.
Crush your garlic and toss it in a fry pan with the prawns and some olive oil. Fry over a medium heat until the prawns are cooked, then add them to the salad bowl as well. Stir.
From here it’s just a matter of adding sumac, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in quantities that you find both tasty and aesthetically pleasing. Give it all another good stir and serve. Those peas just pop in your mouth don’t they? Delicious.
Of course, you can and should use dried beans that you’ve soaked overnight then cooked for this dish instead of tinned ones. Buffalo mozzarella would be a nice substitute for prawns if you’re that way inclined.
And broad beans. You could add broad beans to this quite happily.
WINE NOTE: Nice crisp riesling. Paringa Estate make a great one.
Main post image by Dave Gunn via Creative Commons Licence