I’M PULLING THE PEAS today, making room for another planting to reap in fall (forces willing). With one pound of the shelling types that figure to be in the haul, I’m making a sort of pea pesto to serve on pasta, inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall’s newest cookbook, “River Cottage Veg,” and his dish called Macaroni Peas. Get the recipe—and enter to win a copy of the book, proof positive that even a master of meat-centric culinary arts can be swayed to the botanical side of eating, and boasting 200-plus vegetarian recipe (60-plus of them vegan).
First, a confession: I don’t own any other Fearnley-Wittingstall books—though I know him as a celebrated television chef; magazine columnist for “The Guardian;” founder of a reknown cooking school and restaurants in and around his base in the South West of England; and the winner of James Beard awards. I’ve been eating low on the food chain for 35 years, so Fearnley-Wittingstall’s biggest hit of all—“The River Cottage Meat Book”—and likewise his acclaimed fish cookbook didn’t match my kitchen style.
With “River Cottage Veg,” he has really caught my attention. The book sets Fearnley-Whittingstall’s takes on some familiar, favorite foods such as Twice-Baked Potatoes and Eggplant Parmigiana, against surprises. An unexpected example: must-make Sweet Potato and Peanut Gratin includes not just peanut butter but lime zest and juice to complete its satay-like flavor, the headnote says. New Potato Gnocchi looks so easy I may finally try a homemade batch. And how does Tomato and Mozzarella Risotto sound? (Answer: good to me.)
Along the way among the recipes are many clever bits to take away, too, such as this one for making vegetable stock: Grate the vegetables—onions, carrots, celery–before sautéing, to get the most flavor. (Why didn’t I think of that?)
Today, though, my mission is those just-harvested peas, and here’s the “River Cottage Veg” recipe I’m cooking up:
- 1 pound / 500g shelled peas (fresh or frozen) or petite peas
- 10 ounces / 300g small macaroni or smallish pasta shapes, such as orecchiette, fusilli, or orzo
- 3 tablespoons / 45g butter
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1 ounce / 30g Parmesan, hard goat cheese, or other well-flavored hard cheese, coarsely grated, plus extra to serve
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Shredded basil or flat-leaf parsley, to serve (optional)
Put a large pot of well-salted water on to boil so that you’re ready to cook the pasta while the sauce is coming together.
Put the peas in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer until tender – just a couple of minutes for frozen or very tender, fresh peas, longer for older fresh peas.
When the peas are almost cooked, add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook until al dente.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small frying pan over low heat and add the garlic. Let it cook gently for just a couple of minutes, without coloring, then remove from the heat.
Drain the peas, reserving the cooking water. Put about half of them in a blender with 6 tablespoons of the cooking water, the butter and garlic, and the grated cheese. Blitz to a smooth, loose purée, adding a little more water if needed. Combine with the whole peas and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Drain the pasta as soon as it is ready and toss immediately with the hot pea sauce. Serve topped with plenty of ground black pepper and more grated cheese. Shredded basil or chopped flat-leaf parsley is a good, but by no means essential, finishing touch.
(Reprinted with permission from River Cottage Veg by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, © 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Photography credit: Simon Wheeler.)
enter to win the ‘river cottage veg’
I’VE PURCHASED two copies of “River Cottage Veg” (Amazon affiliate link), the newest book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, to share with you. All you have to do to enter is answer the question below, in the comments box:
Has the balance of your diet shifted to include more vegetables and grains in recent years?
You already know my answer, though I do use some dairy (always organic, preferably raw and mostly goat) and also eggs.
Feeling shy? Just say, “Count me in” or the equivalent, and I’ll include your entry. Two winners will be drawn at random after entries close at midnight on Thursday, July 18, and notified by email. Good luck to all.
(Disclosure: Links to books are Amazon affiliate links, yielding a small commission that I use to purchase more books for future giveaways.)