The glorious (but short lived) season of peas and beans

There’s something quite realxing about podding your own peas and beans. One of my favourite jobs when I worked as a kitchenhand was to pod peas, I could just turn on the radio or watch the chefs work and plod away. Before I knew it I would have enough peas to feed a herd of elephants (we often had elephants eat in the restaurant) and I could move on with the next task. This time of year, not only are peas at their best, but so are broad beans, borlotti beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas. Sweet and crisp, I think they taste great on their own or with a little cooking you can turn them into something special.

To continue with my central market blogging, I had a chat to Bill Howison from House Of Organics, I even convinced him to hold a box of broad beans and hold still for a photo.

Bills bean/pea advice:

  •  When buying, fresh beans should snap when you bend them, the pod should be firm and crisp
  • Keep your peas/beans in the crisper, and not in a plastic bag (mine were given to me in a paper bag)
  • Fresh vegatables are generally far superior to a frozen product, but frozen peas are actually very good as they cook so quickly, but fresh peas are delicious raw.

My advice:

  • Don’t buy broad beans out of season, just don’t.
  •  This family of vegetables have a natural sweetness, and pair brilliantly with salty ingredients, such as bacon, or the goats cheese I have used below
  • Overcooked peas/beans discolour and turn mushy- which some people like but I much prefer them cooked quickly, brilliant green and retaining some texture.


One of my favourite dishes I cooked in the competition was the chicken and pea assiette I cooked in the finale, scoring straight 9’s from the judges. The dish can be seen at photo 10/23

This risotto was a bit of an experiment, as usually if making a risotto with peas in it, they would just be stirred in at the last minute. I thought it would scream september if I instead made a pea puree and made the whole thing green! I would like to hear what you think. This recipe would also work if you just want to stir in whole peas at the end, and some crispy pancetta or other cured meat would be a nice addition. It is a great vegetarian meal also, you just would need to substitute chicken stock for vegetable stock. If using bought stock, try and use the salt reduced stuff, as otherwise with the addition of goats cheese and pecorino the dish can become too salty.


  • 300g peas, podded weight (or frozen)
  • 100ml cream
  • 1L chicken stock, boiling
  • Handful of podded broadbeans
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 100ml white wine

To serve:

  • 100g fresh goats cheese
  • basil leaves or pea shoots
  • pecorino cheese, grated


  1. Make the pea puree: Bring cream, peas and about 50-70 ml of the stock to the boil, then immediately transfer to a blender and blend for a minute or so until well pureed. Pass through a fine sieve and cool quickly over an ice bath (so the pea doesnt overcook and discolour). Reserve
  2. Bring a pot of water to the boil, chuck in the broad beans and blanch for one minute. Transfer beans to a bowl of ice water, then squeeze out of their light green skin- this technique is called double podding and is a good idea as the outside skin can be acidic or bitter.
  3. In a large pan sweat the shallots and garlic with the olive oil. When cooked but not coloured, add the rice and the butter and agitate the pan to coat the grains of rice in the melted butter. Deglaze with the wine and cook until reduced. Add two ladelfuls of the stock and cook on a medium heat. Whenever the stock reduces around the rice, add another ladelful. Don’t leave the risotto while it’s cooking, as you need to make sure the liquid doesn’t evaporate completely. The rice will take around 20 minutes to cook, if you run out of stock you may need to use more or you can use boiling water.
  4. When the rice is almost cooked, stir through the broadbeans. When the rice is cooked quickly stir through the pea puree, cook for another half minute or so to reduce the cream and stock in the puree, then serve immediately with the cheeses and basil/pea shoots.


7 responses to this post.

  1. You forgot one important tip – when shelling your own peas and beans you need to buy twice as many as your recipe calls for as half of them inevitably end up in your mouth immediately after emerging from the pod. This possibly means you will need less dinner though, so perhaps it all works out in the end.
    I love the addition of goat cheese in this, it’s a winner every time!


  2. “We often had elephants in the restaurant” is the best thing that’s happened to me all day.

    I love peas and beans, but you said not to buy broad beans out of season. That makes me very sad… can’t eat broad beans for very long every year :(.


  3. This is whole lot of bean goodness! Good things are usually short lived but that is what makes them extra special every season


  4. Posted by Alex on September 19, 2010 at 3:01 am

    Great post. Looks like someone (me) will be making a trip to House of Organics this week to buy some stuff (peas).


  5. My kids love frozen peas straight from the packet…like still frozen???


  6. Hi Callum

    How’s life going after MC? All the very best.


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