It’s the small things


SMALL BUT VERSATILE The humble pea can be cooked in a myriad of ways.


Redmond Cabot

What a wonderful time of year: Dawn chorus in full song; warm sun alternating with chilly winds; stunning views of our mountains; lambs bouncing in the fields; hope and anticipation in the air. And then the UN go and ruin it all with a chilling report. Telling us what we should know already. Biodiversity is decreasing rapidly, and over 1 million species face extinction. Our actions are destroying the creatures and environment needed to support some of the basic needs of this planet, such as pollination and cross-fertilisation.
A timely reminder to try to shop thoughtfully. Where possible, avoid food that has been flown in from afar, and food that is overly processed or has been intensively produced. And go for free range and organic when you can.   
We should also try to maintain diversity in our diets. One of the smallest ingredients, the humble pea, in our kitchens is about to come into season big time. Small, but versatile. Here’s some great ideas on how to liven up your peas.

Pleasing peas
Cooking peas without water: Try cooking them from frozen in a saucepan with no water, just a knob of butter. Heat over medium-high heat until the butter has barely melted, stirring regularly. Add a pinch of sea salt and serve. Contrast the finished version with how you normally boil them.
Peas and mint soup: Cook 300g peas as described above, throw in a ripped handful of mint leaves and three cups of vegetable stock at half concentration. Blitz with a stick blender and serve with decorative circle of pouring cream. Season with black pepper.
Peas and booze: Try cooking them in a quarter glass of wine or beer to hand.
Peas and horseradish: Cook 250g of peas with a knob of butter, blitz and thinly grate in two thumbnail-sized knobs of peeled horseradish. Serve besides your rashers on the breakfast plate.
Peas and salmon: Cook washed salmon skin-side down on hot pan for two to three minutes, then turn over and cook for another two minutes. Place on a plate. In a saucepan, melt 200g peas with a knob of butter, a dash of white-wine vinegar, black pepper, mash up and serve on top of salmon.
Peas and yogurt: Cook 150g peas with small knob of butter and a teaspoon of brown sugar over a medium heat about five mins. When the sugar caramelises, sprinkle some ground ginger around the pan. Mix into 300g of fresh natural yogurt and serve in a bowl for dessert after lunch.
Peas and chilli: Place two long, red chillies (chopped), 200g of frozen peas and a splash of oil on an oven tray and cook in a pre-heated 180ºc oven for nine minutes. Remove and serve on top of baked cod, beside young leeks that have been cut into two-inch lengths, sliced in half and slow-cooked.
Peas and chorizo rice: Cook some brown rice. In a hot pan, fry 10cm cubes of chorizo (250g in total) on a medium heat for five minutes. Throw in a cupful of peas, add 120g of almonds or nuts, cook and stir for four minutes. Mix in the cooked rice and serve immediately with a squeeze of lime.
Peas and spuds: Oven bake two medium-sized floury potatoes. When cooked, half them and scoop their insides into mixing bowl with 200g frozen peas, 100g cubed cheddar, two thinly sliced spring onions and one tablespoon of cream cheese. Mix up well, season and spoon back into the jacket potatoes. Serve with a green salad.

Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.