If it’s good enough for Michelin-starred restaurants, why aren’t we making more of the frozen pea at home? MasterChef finalist Jack Lucas show us how
I feel a little bit sorry for the frozen pea. Too often it’s the solution to a bashed head or a swollen ankle, instead of being used and enjoyed as it should.
I want to show how you can make the most of the frozen pea with new tips and ideas that can really make you think twice about these little green gems and allow them to take centre stage. But first, let me tell you why.
Biologists say that when harvested, sugars within the peas turn into starches, which can make them bitter. Freezing them, usually within two-to-three hours, prevents this and locks in all that wonderful colour, taste and nutritional goodness. Unless you can pick and eat your peas straight away, you’re far more likely to get a better tasting pea when it’s frozen. Plus, you don’t have to pod the darn things!
It’s not just the lab technicians who back the frozen pea. The proof really is in the pudding and I’ve seen and experienced first hand frozen peas being used in Michelin-starred establishments throughout the country. Be it in vibrant soups or to bring vivid colour to the plate through a purée, the frozen pea stands up to the test at the top.
In fact, I even served a pea and mint purée to the great Ferran Adria of El Bulli during our Barcelona trip for the final of MasterChef, made using frozen peas.
So, that’s all well and good but what can you actually do differently to allow to pea to shine? Here’s some food for thought:
1. Make a puree for a risotto
Cook them in stock to enhance flavour, strain and blitz to a fine puree in your blender. It adds real vibrancy in colour but packs a huge flavour punch if added in at the end of a risotto – it would work perfectly added in to this tasty chicken, pea and goat’s cheese risotto recipe just before you serve.
2. Add colour and texture to soups
Fry off a little frozen onion, garlic and any other veg (such as carrots) that you may have lying around. Add in your peas, a little stock and cream and blitz to a lovely, colourful pea soup – this simple pea soup recipe would be perfect. Even add ham and mint if you wish – go on, I dare you...
3. Make an unusual pesto or hummus
Believe it or not, cooked peas can be used to make a lovely hummus-like topping for some crunchy bruschetta. Just whizz up in a food processor with a little oil and Bob’s your Uncle.
4. Make a comforting side dish
Petit pois à la Francais is a classic dish in France and simply translates as ‘French peas’. Similarly to this simple peas and pancetta recipe, just add in a few frozen onions at the start and some shredded lettuce at the end for an amazing side to accompany that Sunday roast.
5. Serve pureed with white fish or shellfish, such as scallops
Impress your mates and go all flashy on them by turning the pea into something Michelin-starred. Just blitz up as you did for the risotto then swipe it all over the plate like a seasoned chef.
6. Boil – but do it properly
If you want to boil your peas to serve on the side, cook in as little water or stock as possible with no salt to start (as they shrink up) and maybe a few mint leaves for extra taste. Season at the end and serve with a knob of butter and a squeeze of lemon.
So there you have it - how to ensure that these humble little fellas really appease your taste buds! Unless you have a pea production facility in your back garden and you have time to pod them and eat them straight away (I salute you if you do!), I can guarantee you’re better off with the frozen variety.