Chilled pea gazpacho

I love a traditional tomato-based gazpacho so I was intrigued to see a fresh pea gazpacho on the menu of my favourite local restaurant. It was beyond delicious so here is my best-guess version recipe of how to make it at home. It has to be made the day before and refrigerated overnight to achieve the best flavour. To serve, I used small glass dishes that I’d pre-chilled in the fridge into which I had placed a teaspoon of fresh baby peas, crumbled feta and chopped mint leaves. You then pour the chilled soup from a serving jug into the bowls at the table for that extra little bit of dinner party theatre. It’s a really simple idea that looks and tastes very special. 

pea gazpacho
  • Serves 6
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp light olive oil
  • 600g frozen petit pois
  • 500ml light chicken stock
  • 1/2 large cucumber, peeled and deseeded
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Handful of fresh mint leaves
  • Salt and ground white pepper
  • To serve: a spoonful of petits pois (I used thawed frozen ones), a teaspoon of crumbled feta and a little chopped fresh mint per serving bowl.

To make…

  • Heat the oil in a large pan on the hob and cook the onion for 10 minutes until soft but not coloured.
  • Take the pan off the heat and add the peas, cucumber, stock and mint leaves. Blitz until smooth with a hand blender. Add a little water if it’s too thick. Season with the lemon juice, salt and white pepper.
  • Pass the liquid through a fine sieve over a bowl. Rub it through with the back of a spoon. This will make the liquid the correct velvety texture and extract all the flavour from the peas. You may discard the last spoonful or two of the leftover pea fibre if you feel that the texture is already smooth enough.
  • Chill overnight in a serving jug – this is very important for the development of the flavour.
  • To serve, place a teaspoon of baby peas, crumbled feta and chopped mint into the bottom of an individual chilled glass serving dish. These can be made ahead and stored in the fridge. Pour the chilled soup into the bowls at the table for a little bit of dinner party theatre.

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Root slaw with cranberries and dill

My friend Jo is a big Ottolenghi recipe fan and she recently served an unusual slaw combo at a BBQ that I absolutely loved. This is my version, inspired by that salad. The base is shredded root vegetables – I used carrot, celeriac and swede – with a tangy dill dressing and a mix of dried cranberries and barberries. It’s sweet, it’s sour, it’s crunchy, it’s refreshing and simply delicious! 

root salad
  • 250g celeriac, thinly shredded
  • 250g swede, thinly shredded
  • 1 large carrot, thinly shredded
  • 20g fresh dill, chopped
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 4 tbsp light olive oil
  • 3 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely grated
  • 50g dried cranberries, 10g barberries (Waitrose Cook’s Ingredients range)
  • 1/2 tsp salt and black pepper

To make…

  • Place the lemon juice, cider vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper and oil in a bowl. Mix them all together thoroughly and add the dried cranberries. This will plump up the cranberries a little. 
  • Shred the carrot, celeriac and swede –  I used a Julienne vegetable peeler but you could use a food processor or cut it into thin strips by hand with a sharp knife. Mix the vegetables thoroughly with the dressing to help them fully absorb the flavours. Stir in the chopped dill and scatter the barberries over the top.
  • Set aside until you need to serve it. It will keep for up to two days in the fridge.

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Orzo with mushrooms

Orzo, also known as risoni, looks just like little grains of rice although it’s actually a type of short cut pasta. You can use it in lots of dishes as an alternative to rice like risotto (orzotto)and pilafs or add a handful or two to soup. I’ve used it here cooked in mushroom stock and then mixed with browned onions and mushrooms with fresh parsley to add colour and contrast. It would be perfect as a vegan or vegetarian main course although I served it as side dish with pan-fried slices of lamb marinaded with garlic paste and ground cumin salt. Best served at room temperature, this will serve four people as a side dish. Leftovers are great in your lunch box the following day.

Mushrooms with orzo
  • 300g chestnut mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • Orzo – 4 handfuls
  • 2 tbsps light olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • Knorr mushroom stock pot with 300ml boiling water (you could also use stock made with dried mushrooms and then add those to the fresh mushrooms)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • A splash of white wine
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • Generous handful of coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley

To make…

  • Dissolve the mushroom stock pot in the boiling water in a medium saucepan. Add the orzo and cook for 10 minutes. Stir after a minute or so to prevent it sticking. The orzo will absorb a lot of the stock. Set aside once cooked. Don’t drain it as you’re going to use the cooking stock later.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Add the onion slices with a pinch of salt and cook for 10 minutes until brown and caramelised. Stir in the garlic paste and the mushrooms and cook through for another couple of minutes so that all the oil is absorbed and the mushrooms have softened slightly.
  • Next, pour in the cooked orzo, the cooking stock and the white wine. Stir through for another few minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed.
  • Take it off the heat, season with black pepper and stir in the flat leaf parsley. Serve at room temperature.

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