Pea & Prosciutto Cannelloni

This week I ordered a small vegbox (less roots) with bunched carrots, garden peas, perpetual spinach, cos lettuce, mini cucumbers and red and green peppers. I have to admit the veg was somewhat muddy and reminded me of the early days of vegboxes when you somehow felt that the muddier the veg the fresher they must be. Thankfully, this is not usually the case with Riverford veg and they typically turn up fairly clean, but not today.

The pea season is nearly at an end so I thought I would celebrate this by giving them a dish of their own. I had completely forgotten about ready to fill cannelloni pasta until I was asked to make a spinach and ricotta version for one of my clients the other day. It was super quick and simple to make and would have worked well with the spinach in this week’s box. I thought I would try it out with peas and ricotta instead and add some crispy prosciutto too but if you are vegetarian you can omit it. I recon there are all sorts of vegetable fillings I could think up. I might try one out with spring greens. I spent quite a long time playing around with the recipe and I would love to know what you think. You can do a tomato layer as well if you like but I didn’t think it needed it. I did think of adding mint but I don’t really like cooked mint – it can end up tasting a bit like toothpaste so I added a few sprigs to the salad instead.

Pea and Proscuitto Cannelloni and salad

Pea & Prosciutto Cannelloni
Serves 4
100 g prosciutto, slices separated
2 cups shelled peas
250 g fresh ricotta
Box of Cannelloni tubes (about 15)
100g grated Parmesan
Cheese Sauce
50g butter
50g plain flour
500mls milk
200g grated cheddar
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 180°C fan. Cover a baking tray with greaseproof paper and lay out your prosciutto slices. Bake in the oven until crisp (about 5 minutes). Leave to cool and then crumble up into tiny pieces. Place peas in a saucepan of boiling water and cook for 2 mins. Drain and cool slightly. Mash the peas lightly with a potato masher. Combine prosciutto, peas, ricotta and parmesan in a medium bowl and season with plenty of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Tip all your mix into a piping bag (or you can use a large freezer bag and cut off one corner) and pipe the mix into the cannelloni tubes. This seems a little awkward at first but once you get the hang of it, it is quite simple. Arrange in an ovenproof dish as you go.

To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Remove and stir in the flour. Return to the heat and cook until sandy. Remove from the heat and whisk in the milk. Return to the heat and whisk until thick. Boil for a minute or two. Remove from the heat and add the cheese. Stir until smooth and season well with salt and pepper. Poor over the cheese sauce and bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown and the pasta is tender. A blunt knife should easily insert. Serve with a salad maybe with a sprig or two of mint.

Pea and procuitto cannelloni

Braised Summer Greens with Pulled Ham Hock, Broad Beans, Peas & Lentils

I am very excited about peas in salads at the moment, especially baby fresh, uncooked ones. They are like a little crunchy explosion in your mouth. My pea harvest at my allotment has been particularly good this year and some have even managed to make it to the table. In past years the entire harvest has gone straight in the kids mouths. Anyway, back to this week’s box – summer greens and broad beans to use up, I came up with this rather successful recipe. Not quite salad, not quite a side, not quite soup, we ate it as a main and it was very enjoyable. As always with my recipes, it is easily adaptable and any greens would do including chard, kale or any sort of cabbage. You may have to adapt the cooking of the greens with a tougher variety of green such as kale but this method of cooking greens with olive oil and garlic is my favourite and is delicious just on its own.

I am a great fan of ready pulled ham hock. Although I know it is an easy enough to make your own and you end up with all that lovely ham stock, anything that saves a little time in the kitchen, helps. You can now buy it quite readily from good supermarkets or indeed, Riverford do their own.

When it comes to lentils for salads the ones from Le Puy in France are the most superior. They hold their shape and texture far the best and although you may see cheap imitations they are never as good. Merchant & Gourmand stock some fine ones and although they also do a ready cooked variety they are never as good as cooking them yourself.

With the weather as it is this June it is hard to know whether you want to eat salad or soup – well, this recipe really can be either, add some lettuce and you have a salad, add some stock and you have soup. I am always amazed how much the two can have in common.

Braised Summer Greens with Lentils, Broad Beans etc

Braised Summer Greens with Pulled Ham Hock, Broad Beans, Peas & Lentils

1 packet of summer greens

100g of cooked broad beans (boiling water for 2 minutes and refresh in cold)

A handful of fresh shelled peas or frozen

50g Puy lentils

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 cloves of garlic, very finely sliced

1 packet pulled ham hock

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Shred the spring greens finely and wash well. Do not remove too much of the water. Put the lentils in a saucepan with plenty of cold water and cook gently for about 15 to 20 minutes until tender. Drain off some of the water, but not all. Stir in the mustard and add a glug of good olive oil and season with salt to taste, whilst they are still warm. Heat a large saucepan with a good glug of olive oil. Add the very thinly sliced garlic and cook until the garlic is golden brown. Add the greens and sauté for a few minutes until the greens are tender. Season with salt to taste. Meanwhile shell the peas and slip the broad beans out of their skins. Mix the lentils with the greens and the ham hock. Check seasoning. Heap into bowls and scatter with peas and broad beans and serve.

Broad beand shelled