While the rest of the world is currently going crazy over fall and everything pumpkin, here I am on the other side of the Earth trying not to feel jealous or left out, which, I’ve got to admit, is SO hard. I don’t think I’ll ever fully get used to the fact that living in Australia means always being on the opposite spectrum of the seasons, but I must say, things like these gorgeous fresh spring peas and broad beans surely do help make it a little easier.
Nothing says spring like a pod full of these stunning jade and emerald beauties, and popping a few raw, tender and ever-so-sweet peas straight into my mouth always makes me smile and feel that spring has well and truly arrived. I was thrilled to find them both in abundance in the markets this past week and jumped at the chance to buy a substantial amount to experiment with. Naturally, I got way too excited and vastly overdid it. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
As a person who has massive tendencies for anxiety, stress and general un-ease, I find that mundane, repetitive tasks can be extremely therapeutic and comforting. Things like shelling large quantities of peas, beans and peanuts, rolling up sambosak (Egyptian samosas) and stuffed vine leaves, shaping pasta or making endless little pillows of gnocchi, to name a few.
These seemingly boring and tedious activities, I find, force me to slow down, focus on the task at hand and enjoy the simplicity of getting through a big pile of work slowly, surely, one step at a time, while quieting down all the noise (both inside and outside my head) and finding something to ground me amidst the chaos that is everyday life.
Something about repeating such simple yet time-consuming tasks, to me, is immensely calming and soothing, and even though I don’t always have time to do so, I try to regularly seek out opportunities to cook something that involves such tasks. I usually plan for it during weekends, and I think of it more as a project of sorts; both to make a delicious meal as well as to work on being a more sane person (which is much more challenging than it sounds you guys) and wind down after a week of typical madness.
This toast, or bruschetta, is the absolute epitome of spring. It is fresh and light and zesty and EVER so green! The peas and beans are sweet and tender, the mint and lemon refreshing and zingy, and the feta wonderfully tangy and creamy. Piled on top of a well-toasted slice of crusty sourdough and bathed in a generous coating of fruity (and also green!) olive oil, this makes for a wonderful breakfast, brunch or light lunch. Adding a poached egg on top would be delicious too, and would make it a more substantial meal. If you cannot get your hands on fresh peas and beans, frozen will work too of course, although for me this whole recipe is essentially a celebration of their arrival.
- • 300g shelled fresh broad beans*
- • 300g shelled fresh peas*
- • 200g feta cheese
- • zest & juice of 1 large lemon
- • ½ a bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked, roughly chopped
- • 60-80ml (1/4 - ⅓ cup) extra virgin olive oil
- • 4 slices of crusty bread like sourdough, toasted
- Blanch the beans & peas: Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl full of ice cold water and have it nearby. Add the broad beans to the boiling water and set your timer to 2 minutes. After the 2 minutes are done, add the peas to the pot with the broad beans, and cook a further 2 minutes. Drain the beans & peas and immediately put them into the bowl of cold water to refresh them and keep their vibrant colour. Leave them immersed for a couple of minutes to cool down and then drain well.
- Peel the beans: Once they are cool, you will need to peel the broad beans. Simple squeeze each bean gently between your index finger and thumb and it will pop out of the skin. Discard the skins.
- In a bowl, crumble the feta cheese and add the zest and juice of the lemon and the chopped mint (reserve a little zest & a few mint leaves for garnishing if you like). Drizzle in enough olive oil while mashing the mixture with the back of a fork until the mixture is softened and moist and creamy. Add the beans and peas (you may also reserve a few for garnishing) and stir through, mashing lightly with your fork until well distributed.
- Divide the mixture between the 4 slices of toast, piling it on and spreading it. Garnish with reserved zest, mint & peas and drizzle with extra olive oil. Serve immediately.
* When buying fresh peas and broad beans, you will need to buy about double the weight or slightly more, to account for the weight of the pods.
• For a more substantial meal, top each toast with a poached egg.