Ilaria at her flat in London Summertime is freshness in a word, a feeling, or a flavour. The time to relax under the sun is here! I’m probably just a 10-minutes’ walk away from Victoria Park, one of the most beautiful, lush spots in East London. The weekends have now shifted from drinking copious amounts of peppermint tea inside (admittedly a new discovery since moving to London…. shhh!) to day-long expeditions to Vic Park, loaded with snacks and Prosecco.
This broad bean and pea salad has it all. It’s super easy to make so you don’t have to be in the kitchen prepping for long. It’s zingy and light, and if you serve it with a poached egg (and a huge chunk of sourdough), you have a meal. Here, I am at home in my London flat with Mireille, and Rob (obscured by the flowers)!
5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 3 medium sized shallots, peeled and finely diced 2 small or 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and crushed 500g (bit more than a pound) broad beans 450g (about 1 pound) frozen baby peas Finely grated zest and juice of two lemons, (microplane ideal here!) Salt and pepper to taste 100g (3-4 ounces) feta, crumbled 4 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh mint Lemon oil to drizzle Big chunks of sourdough to serve
1 Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a medium-large frying pan (skillet) over medium heat and add shallots. Cook gently until tender. You don’t want to blast them with heat and char them, because you want them super soft and just semi caramelized. This will take about 5 to 7 minutes or so. Take pan off the heat.
2 As the shallots are gently sizzling, heat up the kettle with water or bring a medium pot of water to the boil. Rinse the broad beans under running water to rinse off any icicles, then add them to the pot and bring to the boil. Cook for about 3 minutes, just until tender. Drain and refresh under cold running water – this locks in their green colour and stops them over-cooking.
3 Spread out the beans on a clean tea towel and gently pat them dry. You now have to squelch out the bean from inside their shells. Fun times. (There’s something weird about that word squelch … anyway, moving on …) Try as much as you can to palm this duty off on to one of your mates while you pour yourself a glass of wine.
4 While said mate is shelling the broad beans, put peas in a sieve and rinse off icy bits. Bring another pot of water to the boil, add some salt, and drop in the peas. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes until they are super tender and mushable with a fork. Drain and refresh with cold water and drain again!
5 Put the frying pan with the caramelized shallots back on a low heat and add crushed garlic and lemon zest (I kept some for the top, too). Wait until all is sizzling away and garlic is lightly browned, then throw in the broad beans, peas, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and 1 tablespoon of oil. Mix it up and cook gently for 5 minutes or so. Add feta, then dish into bowls and serve immediately.
If going for the egg option, add poached or lightly boiled eggs and drizzle with lemon oil. Serve with sour dough bread.
You’ll notice the lemon juice quickly changes the colour of broad beans. By the time we’d fluffed around with the eggs, had a few more sips of wine and all of that, the lemon had certainly done it’s thing, but don’t worry about it, because it all tastes absolutely delicious.