England is famous for its mushy peas, so to celebrate this great little vegetable I've decided to do my own take on the whole mushy pea thing. This is the kind of food I love to cook and eat outdoors, especially when the sun's out. All my friends who have tasted this have absolutely loved it – so I know you will too.
Don't use frozen peas and broad beans for this because it sort of misses the point. Made with raw peas and sweet fresh broad beans, the whole thing will taste alive and just like summer. Think mown lawns and warm sunny evenings! Get them early enough in the season and they'll be even sweeter. Farmers' markets and good supermarkets are beginning to sell pea shoots – use them in the same way as salad leaves. They're great.
Nutritional Information (amount per serving)
MethodPod the peas and broad beans, keeping them separate. Put any really small ones to one side to use in the salad.
This next bit is best done in a pestle and mortar, in batches if necessary. (You can pulse it in a food processor instead, but you won't end up with the lovely bashed and bruised flavour that makes this dish incredible.) Bash up half the mint leaves with the peas and a pinch of salt. Add the broad beans a few at a time and crush to a thick green paste.
Mash in a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to make the paste really gorgeous and spreadable. Stir in the pecorino. If the mixture is a bit stiff, add a little more oil to loosen it. Add about three-quarters of the lemon juice – this will bring the whole story together. Have a taste and see what you think. You want the richness of the pecorino and the oil to balance nicely with the freshness of the peas, beans and mint. Season with more salt and some pepper if you need to.
Toast the bread on both sides, either on a barbecue or in a hot griddle pan. Rub each slice twice only (very important) with the cut side of the garlic and top with some smashed peas and quarter of a ball of mozzarella.
Dress the pea shoots, the remaining mint leaves and the reserved small peas and beans with the rest of the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and scatter this salad over the crostini. Finish with a little more olive oil and a grating of pecorino. Very delicious!
PS Just to get you thinking, this paste tossed with tagliatelle ... oooh! Dolloped over a piece of grilled white fish ... double oooh!