Three Toasts to Spring…Peas, Cheese and Happiness

Spring is here, and I am disarmingly happy; in fact I feel positively fluffy. The weather has a lot to do with it of course. And flowers. And green things of all description. It’s common to feel simultanoeusly sad and relieved when one makes the discovery that one really is quite simple. I have realised this today. This morning in fact. I took my merry self off to photograph the blossoms and the bees, humming all the while,  skipping and frolicking like an oversized woodland nymph through the woods. For, if you go down to the woods today you’re sure for a big surprise…….Many, in fact. Bluebells! Daffodils! Wild garlic, Blossom, PRIMROSES for gods sakes!! How shall we bear so much happiness??? Life is not complicated. No need to get heavy, man. Follow in my footsteps and realease your inner hippy.

Hmm, this perverse mindset cannot last long but while it does last, I intend to indulge it in a flurry of happy-making recipes to celebrate the joys of spring. So, I took myself off this morning and picked some wild garlic. Then I picked up a lovely fresh goat’s cheese from the cheesmonger; also a milky white ball of buffalo mozzarella. Then I got some parmesan, some peas and some mint and basil. This was all I needed to make possibly one of the best spring lunches imaginable….

First, you need to go foraging for some wild garlic. It looks like this:

You wont miss it, chiefly due to the smell, and it’s growing everywhere like a weed. Once you have obtained this you’re ready for my recipe…You will need to wash it thoroughly in cold water, and pluck the white bits off, leaving only the fat green leafy bits.

Two (or 3) Toasts

I had this delicious creme fraiche I bought from the deli so I invented a third toast….

You will need:

mozarella or ricotta

parmesan

garlic, 1/4 of a clove

handful wild garlic

lemon juice

salt, pepper

olive oil (your best)

sourdough

toasted pine nuts (optional)

basil/mint

creme fraiche (optional-for the third toast)

goats cheese

peas

As ever, this is more of a suggestion than a strict recipe, but I’ll tell you what I did anyway. Blanch the peas, then drain. Toast 1: Pound the tiniest nib of a garlic clove with some seasalt in a pestel and mortar (or magimix) then pour in the peas. I like a rough texture but you can process them if you prefer. Reserve half and set aside if you are making the third toast. Add some finely grated parmesan to the first batch, along with some lemon zest and juice, and a good grind of pepper. Pound it all up with a glug of good olive oil, then pile it on a piece of toasted sourdough. Top with torn mozarella/ricotta and some toasted pine nuts, drizzle with extra oil.

Toast 2: Using the other half of the pea mush, finely tear up some basil/mint and stir it in. Season with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper. Serve with some creme fraiche and an extra sprig of basil/mint.

Toast 3: Finely slice 1/2 garlic clove, fry in some olive oil until just golden, add the wild garlic shoots and a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper and braise over a low heat until wilted. Serve with some crumbled goat’s cheese (you can put it all under the grill to melt if you wish) and an extra glug of oil on another slice of toasted sourdough.

So there you go – simple and delicious.

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