Monday, April 28, 2008

The Broken Record (Fresh Pea & Bean Bruschetta)

I know I sound like a broken record, but I cooked another Jamie Oliver recipe. I realize that pretty much everything I've written about so far was straight out of a Jamie book, but I will put forward two excuses. First, I only own two cookbooks, and that's Jamie's Italy and Jamie at Home, so I don't exactly have much to work with. Second, it's like the guy can read my mind. The type of food he makes is exactly the type of food I really like to eat: fresh, seasonal, simple. As if that wasn't enough, Mr Oliver has done exactly what I've been dreaming of: he's created a garden where he can just pop out and get any fresh herb he wants, fresh vegetables, everything. The very thought of being able to step outside and pick climbing beans right off the stalks makes me want to buy a house in Italy.

Jamie's food is all about letting the produce talk for itself, just adding the right amount of spices, and most recipes are very rustic in their nature, making them suitable for cooking in a kitchen which you have to share with 11 other people (I live in a student dorm). This time of year, when fresh produce is appearing on the markets, Jamie's recipes are to die for. And so it came to be that I went shopping at the Viktualienmarkt for my and Angelica's Saturday dinner, and just as I had hoped, came upon fresh peas and broad beans. Speaking of which, at last the blog named after them shall see some beans.

This dish is delicious with a capital D, the flavour of raw peas and broad beans makes it taste green, for lack of a better word, and it is indeed the perfect thing to enjoy when the leaves have just appeared on the trees, the birds are building their nests, and the world is so alive.

Before moving on to the recipe, I thought I'd show some inventive plating. I found this picture on my desktop, obviously saved from the internet at some point, no idea where it's from. It's cute, though. I like birds.

Jamie Oliver's Smashed Peas and Broad Beans on Toast
Serves 4. No, seriously, it does serve 4. At least as a starter, we made about 3/4 recipe for 2, and it almost filled us right up.

150 g fresh shelled peas (ca 500 g in pods)
250 g fresh shelled broad beans (ca 700 g in pods)
mint leaves
salt, pepper
extra virgin olive oil
50 g finely grated pecorino
juice of 1 lemon
4 slices of a good Bruschetta bread
1 clove of garlic, halved
ca 500 g buffalo mozzarella
possibly pea shoots to dress, we had none

This recipe is really simple, but it certainly helps if you've got a large mortar and a good hand with it. I had a small mortar, and it took some work (which Angelica performed, thanks honey), but it works with that too. Don't use a food processor, the texture was amazing.

Pod your peas and beans if necessary, and keep separate. Bash half the mint with some salt and the peas in a mortar, then bash in the broad beans a few at a time. Do it in batches if necessary, but keep some goo in the bottom when adding another batch, it'll help stop the peas from jumping out of the mortar. Don't overwork it, the texture is wonderful when there's a mixture of sizes of bits enveloped in the smooth creaminess of the really mashed part.
Add olive oil carefully until you get a spreadable yet firm consistency, then add pecorino and most of the lemon juice. Taste it, and season with salt and pepper, and maybe some more lemon juice or oil if necessary.
Grill the bread slices and then rub them gently just a couple of times with the garlic halves, not too much, just so you get a hint of garlic there. Distribute the pea and bean mash on the bread, rip up the mozzarella and place over it, dress with some olive oil and possibly pea shoots, maybe a small pinch of pepper, and finish with some grated pecorino.


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