They are the green pearls with the off-putting name, whether that be the usual “pea” or the Latin “pisum sativum”! Of course its role as a measure of discomfort in the famous fairytale doesn’t exactly help…
In everyday cooking, the humble pea does quite well: peas in olive oil, with potatoes, in tomato sauce, with lemon, with artichokes (which I adore because, apart from being delicious, the combination of different hues of green and different textures appeal to me), peas in butter ( thankfully a rather out-moded dish), puree, soup and Indian pitas (English influenced, blended with spices from the former colonies) and so on….suffice to say that, although it is a humble bit-player in the cast of vegetables, the recipes using it are endless. I decided, therefore to choose something more laissez-faire to do with it – let’s say – for a brunch or picnic – a passport to anywhere.
Pea and mint tart. Origin of recipe: Italy. Difficulty rating: zero.
Preparation: The initial cooking of the peas can be done hours or even a day in advance. The final stages should be done on the same day, preferably close to the serving time. The pea and mint tart can be reheated (80-100 degrees C) but should be eaten at room temperature – not chilled.
Ingredients (serve 5-6)
500 g peas
60 g pecorino, grated
2 fresh spring onions, only the white part, sliced
2 sprigs of mint, the leaves finely chopped
3 tbsp oil
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Cook the peas: In a deep frying pan, heat the oil and on a medium setting , sauté the onions until soft but not browned and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the peas, stir for a minute so that the water evaporates and then add a spoonful of water. Salt, stir again for a minute and leave to simmer on a medium heat for about 15 minutes or until the peas have softened. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Note: Fresh or frozen peas can be used. Tinned peas are not suitable for this recipe. The peas should be al dente when ready as they will continue cooking later.
Making the pea and mint tart: Butter a quiche tin 22 cm in diameter and line with breadcrumbs (to form a thin layer).
Beat the eggs in a bowl and add salt, pepper, the pecorino and mint. Finally stir in the peas and pour into the buttered tin. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, by which time the tart will be golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Serving: Turn the tart out onto a serving plate and cut into slices like a cake. If the tart is being served as a starter, it can be accompanied by a green salad. The pea and mint tart itself, however, (cut in squares or diamonds) can be a delicious accompaniment to meat or grilled fish.