Food: Skye Gyngell spills the beans

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Indy Lifestyle Online

The season for English peas and broad beans is here at last, bringing a fresh, sweet alternative to the heavy root vegetables that have been available for the past few months.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627, petershamnurseries.com

Fillet of beef with peas, beans, chard and horseradish cream

This is the best way I know of cooking fillet of beef – it is beautifully pink in the centre from its long resting time, and its texture is really quite wonderful.

Serves 6

For the horseradish cream

200ml/7fl oz crème fraîche
2 inches of fresh horseradish, peeled and finely grated
1/2 tsp of red-wine vinegar
A good pinch of sea salt

Place the crème fraîche in a mixing bowl, stir in the grated horseradish and the vinegar, finish with the salt and set aside while you prepare the beef and the vegetables.

11/2 kg/3lb beef fillet, trimmed of all fat
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6. Season the meat very generously all over. Place a large, non-stick pan over a high heat on top of the stove. Add the olive oil and when the pan is really hot, add the beef. Brown really well all over. Transfer the beef to a roasting pan and place on the middle shelf of the oven. Cook for five minutes then remove from the oven and wrap the warm beef very securely in aluminium foil. Set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes – the beef will carry on cooking in the foil.

250g/8oz podded peas
250g/8oz podded broad beans
A good drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
The juice of one lemon
1 bunch of rainbow chard, blanched in well-salted water for five minutes and set aside
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp grated Parmesan

Cook the broad beans and peas as in the recipe to the right. Once cooked, place in a bowl with the chard and dress with the oil and lemon juice. Add the Parmesan and season; toss well. Slice the beef into generous two-inch slices, place on plates, spoon the horseradish over the top and serve with the peas, beans and chard.

Peas and broad beans on toast

As simple as this recipe seems, it is worth making purely because it tastes so good. It is perfect to have with drinks before a meal – especially when the weather is pleasant enough to eat out in the garden. You can prepare the peas and beans ahead of time and simply grill the toast just before you are ready to eat.

Enough for 8-10 pieces of toast

200g/7oz podded peas
200g/7oz podded broad beans
1 small bunch of mint, leaves only
The juice of half a lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
11/2 tbsp grated Parmesan
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
8-10 pieces of robust peasant-style bread
1 garlic clove

Place a large pot of well-salted water on to boil. Once the water is boiling, add the peas and cook for a minute. Now add the broad beans and cook for a further one-and-a-half minutes. Remove from the stove, strain through a colander – but do not refresh under cold water – and place in a bowl.

Roughly chop the mint and add to the peas and broad beans along with the lemon juice, salt and pepper, Parmesan and olive oil. Toss together well to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning as you see fit.

Set aside while you grill the bread (use a toaster if you must, but grilling on a griddle or ridged frying pan gives a great taste and distinctive striped look). Grill the bread on both sides until golden-brown, remove and gently rub with the garlic clove, drizzle with olive oil and spoon the peas and beans on top. Serve right away, while the bread is still warm.

Broad beans and peas with mozzarella and Parma ham

The key to getting the best flavours out of all the lovely spring produce that is currently available is to keep it very simple and to dress just before eating.

Serves 6

180g/6oz podded broad beans
200g/7oz podded peas
1 tbsp olive oil, plus a little more for drizzling
The zest of a lemon and juice of half a lemon
3 fresh balls of mozzarella
1 bunch of mint
12 slices of San Daniele or Parma ham

Cook the beans and peas then dress with the oil, lemon zest and juice and season with salt and pepper. Tear each mozzarella ball in half and divide between six plates. Arrange two slices of Parma ham on top of each and scatter over the peas and beans. Season with a little more salt and drizzle over a little more oil. Serve straight away.

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