Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Smashed broad bean and mint crostini

This is based on Jamie Oliver's smashed pea and broad bean crostini, only we didn't have any peas.

I know broad beans are out of season, but, well, we had this over Christmas and I have been itching to post it. Plus, I've made it since with frozen peas — why not? — with similar results.

Christmas dinner with the Grateful Guinea Pig and my parents in Calitzdorp was a relaxed, spontaneous affair. We knew my dad was going to roast a duck, but that was about it.

So we sat around, um-ing and ah-ing, discussing what was available, paging through recipes (my heart feels warm and full just thinking about it — I wish my folks lived closer to Cape Town so we could all cook together more often).

My mom mentioned she had some broad beans in the freezer, and this recipe immediately peeped out from under the Persian rug of my subconscious. I'd seen it years ago and thought it sounded a treat — can't think why I hadn't got round to trying yet.

Well, it surpassed all expectations. It was just unbelievably tasty: the lemon juice and pecorino offer a sharp, savoury intensity, while the smooth, sweet broad beans provide backing vocals... The mint just takes it to a whole other level.

The rest of the meal was a little more prosaic — aren't all the most delicious, comforting foods, though? Dad roasted the duck to perfection, accompanied by gravy (in a gravy boat! That pleased me immensely) ...

 ... as well as creamed nutmeg spinach, crispy roast potatoes and butternut. Uncomplicated, generous food, accompanied by a truly stellar cast of Pinot Noirs:
Honestly, I couldn't pick a favourite (okay, well, the Crystallum then, since you're holding a gun to my head, but it only wins by a hair).

I really wish I could go back and have Christmas dinner all over again. It was magical, and over way too quickly.

But let's get back to the green stuff.

Like I said, I've made it using frozen peas, and while it isn't quite as elegant as the broad bean version, it's still plenty good. Here's the recipe — I'm sure you can work out what needs substituting between the peas and broad beans.

Jamie's smashed pea and broad bean crostini 
(He says it serves 12, but that sounds a bit optimistic to me)

1 small handful mint leaves, plus extra to serve
1 handful podded peas
1 handful broad beans
1 large handful freshly grated pecorino or Parmesan, plus extra to serve
extra virgin olive oil
lemon juice

In a pestle and mortar or a food processor, smash up a small handful of mint leaves with 2 good handfuls of freshly podded peas and broad beans until they look like mushy peas. Add a large handful of freshly grated pecorino or Parmesan, then loosen with a couple of good lugs of extra virgin olive oil and balance the flavours with a little lemon juice, salt and pepper. Smear this over each of your hot crostini and finish with some grated pecorino or Parmesan and a little mint — genius!

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