I love this time of year. With each season, I look forward to a new chapter (mainly in the weather and the food but also, just like at the start of a new school term, starting afresh) and when I think of June, I imagine weddings, gin and tonics enjoyed in the garden and slow summer days and evenings. Obviously, real life often gets in the way and even if it’s not pouring with rain, we often find ourselves stuck at the office when the sun’s shining outside.
One of the nicest things about summer is all that fresh fruit and vegetables and because it’s so easy to prepare, you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the summer – when the weather’s playing ball, that is. This is when peas and broad beans are just coming into season and once you get them out of their pods, they cook in a matter of minutes and by adding fresh mint, olive oil and lemon juice, they’re delicious served on their own.
Shelling peas is the closest I’ll ever get to mindfulness. I have the patience of a sinner but even I’m willing to sit down for half an hour and focus my full attention on popping them out of their pods. If you don’t want to completely switch off, shelling peas gives you a good excuse to catch up with a podcast or your latest Netflix binge.
Believe it or not, peas aren’t actually vegetables as each pod and its contents is collectively fruit and the peas are the seeds. That explains why they’re so sweet and how it’s almost impossible to shell them without snacking on a few.
Peas are something of a nutritional powerhouse as they’re low in sugar and a 100g portion provides you with 66% of your daily recommended allowance of vitamin C. Peas are also a good source of fibre and protein. If you can’t get fresh peas just use the frozen kind.
Spaghetti with pea and avocado pesto
200g peas, shelled and rinsed
1 lemon (juice only)
1 ripe avocado, peeled and halved
3 large handfuls kale, cavolo nero or spinach, torn
5-6 basil leaves, torn
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Flaked almonds (optional)
Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook your spaghetti for 8-10 minutes, then drain. Steam the peas for one minute before adding the kale, then cook for a further 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place the avocado, basil, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper into a blender. When the kale is cooked, allow it to cool for a minute, then add to the other ingredients and blend – you don’t need to be too thorough with this as you want a fairly coarse consistency. In a pan, mix the spaghetti and the peas and stir through the pasta, heating for a minute if you want to eat it warm, and serve. Scatter with flaked almonds for added crunch and a few basil leaves, if you like.