Spring feast: braised little gems and peas with mint

It’s grey, cold and raining outside, certainly doesn’t feel like Spring at all.  L But I did manage to capture a great shot of proper Springtime London and keep referring to it longingly just to cheer myself up.

Springtime in London

Also to provide cheer for the Tummies and our Friends, I decided to cook a Spring Feast to celebrate all the best bounty of the season.  Spring has to be the most anticipated of the seasons, particularly it brings the promise of summer sun ever closer.  Many spring vegetables are brief visitors (blink and you’ll miss the asparagus and purple sprouting broccoli) but all the more appreciated because of this.

Our menu went like this:

  • Asparagus emulsion
  • Roast leg of lamb
  • Braised little gems and peas with mint
  • Steamed purple sprouting broccoli lightly tossed with olive oil and lemon
  • Home-made gnocchi (rare high-effort attempt by me!!)
  • Pistachio and chocolate cake with strawberries

Suffice to say, it was a great dinner – good food, good wine, good friends – thoughts of the cold and rain outside were banished (at least temporarily).  There were glasses overflowing, seconds and some thirds (servings that is), conversation and laughter all around the table, just the effect that the Tummies strongly believe good food should have.

And I wanted to share a bit of our Spring Feast with you (Yeah, you wish…no leftovers!) with a recipe for beautifully sweet and nutty braised lettuce (yes, you read correct, you can cook lettuce!) enlivened with the freshness of sweet and crunchy petit pois and mint.

Braised little gem, peas and mint

Braised little gems and peas with mint
Serves 6

Six heads of little gem lettuces
200g of frozen petit pois (or more if you’re as much of a pea fiend as I am)
1 onion, small dice
50g pancetta/bacon bits
500ml stock (I used pork coz that was what I had to hand)
Handful of mint, chopped

Sautee the onion and pancetta/bacon bits in some olive oil until the onion turns translucent.

Trim the little gems and cut each one into 4 lengthways, and fit into pot.  Cover with the stock, don’t worry if it doesn’t cover the lettuce completely as the lettuce shrinks as it cooks.  Bring it to boil, then cover and reduce heat for a simmer for another 7 mins.

Remove little gems with a slotted spoon and continue cooking to reduce the liquid by half.  Return little gems to the pot and bring to boil.  Throw in the peas and mint then cover and turn off heat at this point.  The heat will continue cooking the peas and we don’t want to overcook them or they lose their sweet crunchiness.

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