Yotam Ottolenghi’s pea recipes | Life and style

I recently introduced my youngest son to freshly picked peas, and his delighted reaction to this new instant food made me question the idea of even cooking them at all: what a shame to lose that sweet freshness, vibrant greenness and slight crunch by applying heat. But I’m a chef, so I can’t help myself. When they’re super-fresh, I’ll still put peas raw in a salad, but otherwise I might blanch them very lightly, throw them, pods and all, on a hot grill or cook them for so long that they turn almost khaki-grey. There’s a real versatility to the humble little pea, and sometimes it pays not to eat them straight from the pod.

Grilled radicchio and sugar snap pea salad (pictured above)

This warm side salad is all about the beautiful leaves, vegetables and herbs. I’ve used a few different types of radicchio, but you could also use chicory or whatever mix of bitter leaves you can get your hands on. Not much more than garlic and lemon is needed to make this sing, but a few drops of chilli oil wouldn’t go amiss, too.

Prep 12 min
Cook 12 min
Serves 4 as a side

3 small garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
3-4 lemons, zest finely grated, to get 1½ tbsp, and juiced, to get 60ml
75ml olive oil
Flaked sea salt and black pepper
450g mixed radicchio leaves, ideally pink, tardivo and castelfranco, trimmed and roughly torn
600g sugar snap peas, fibrous threads removed
3 tbsp dill leaves, roughly chopped
3 tbsp tarragon leaves, roughly chopped

Put the first three ingredients in a small bowl with three teaspoons of salt and plenty of pepper.

Put half the leaves and all the sugar snaps in a large bowl, pour over two-thirds of the garlic and lemon mixture, and toss to coat.

Heat a large griddle pan on a high heat (as always, remember to ventilate the kitchen first). Once very hot, turn down the heat to medium, then griddle the dressed leaves and sugar snaps for about four minutes, turning every now and then, until everything has good char marks – spread them out in the pan, so they all get some heat, and cook in batches if need be.

Transfer the griddled vegetables to a large bowl, add the raw leaves, herbs and the remaining dressing, toss gently and serve at once.

Spinach, pea and broad bean filo cigars

Yotam Ottolenghi’s spinach, pea and broad bean filo cigars.



Yotam Ottolenghi’s spinach, pea and broad bean filo cigars. Photograph: Louise Hagger for the Guardian

This party snack is a bit of a commitment – get a helper, if you can – but it pays off when that green bechamel filling comes oozing out, all delicious and warm. That said, you can roll them a day ahead, refrigerate overnight and fry from room temperature the next day.

Prep 30 min
Cook 30 min, plus 20-30 min to roll the cigars
Makes 24

50g unsalted butter, plus 150g melted butter extra, for brushing
40g plain flour
400ml whole milk
1 tsp dijon mustard
Salt and black pepper
250g baby spinach
20g basil leaves, roughly chopped
10g mint leaves, roughly chopped
½ tsp ground Iranian lime (optional)
1½ tsp fennel seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
300g fresh or defrosted frozen peas
350g blanched fresh or defrosted frozen broad beans, skins removed
200g feta, roughly crumbled into 2cm pieces
300g filo pastry (ie, 12 39cm x 30cm sheets)
1 egg, beaten
500ml sunflower oil
3 lemons, cut into wedges, to serve

Put 50g butter and the flour in a medium saucepan on a medium heat, and stir constantly until the butter and flour have come together and are bubbling – about four minutes. Mix together the milk, mustard, half a teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper, then add to the flour pan in three instalments, whisking all the time, until you have a smooth sauce. Turn the heat to low, cook for 10 minutes, whisking frequently, then leave to cool.

Put the spinach in a medium pan on a medium-high heat, add a splash of water and cook for two to three minutes, until wilted, then drain in a colander and leave to cool. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much water as you can: you should end up with about 150g cooked spinach. Put this in a food processor with the bechamel sauce, herbs, Iranian lime (if using), fennel seeds and half the peas, and pulse a few times to break down the spinach and peas a little. Tip into a large bowl, gently stir in the remaining peas, broad beans, feta and two-thirds of a teaspoon of salt, then refrigerate.

Take one sheet of filo and, with the longest edge facing towards you, cut it in half lengthways. Brush both pieces with a little melted butter. Spoon 50g (or two to three tablespoons) of filling on one of the shorter ends of one of the two pieces of filo, then use your hands to form the filling into a sausage shape, leaving 2cm of pastry clear at the bottom. Fold the bottom end of the pastry up over the filling, then roll up into a thick cigar, tucking in the sides as you go. Lightly brush the ends of the pastry with a little egg wash, then seal (the egg wash will prevent the filling from escaping when cooking). Do the same with the second piece of filo, then repeat with the remaining filo sheets until you have 24 cigars.

Heat the oil in a medium pan on a medium-high flame: it’s hot enough when a small piece of excess pastry browns within five to 10 seconds. Carefully put four or five cigars into the hot oil and fry for two to three minutes in all, turning once halfway, until golden brown all over. With a slotted spoon, transfer the cigars to a plate lined with kitchen paper, sprinkle with salt, and keep warm while you repeat with the remaining cigars (lower the heat if they start to colour too quickly). Serve hot with the lemon wedges alongside.

Vignole with orzo and lemon

Yotam Ottolenghi’s vignole with orzo and lemon.



Yotam Ottolenghi’s vignole with orzo and lemon. Photograph: Louise Hagger for the Guardian

This is my version of vignole, a traditional Roman dish that celebrates green spring vegetables. It’s a meal in a bowl that I can’t get enough of at the moment.

Prep 15 min
Cook 20 min
Serves 2 as a starter

1 lemon
100ml olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
4 spring onions, each cut into four on the diagonal
100g mangetout
100g sugar snap peas, fibrous threads removed
230g thick-stemmed green asparagus, woody ends removed, spears cut into three pieces
120g orzo
Salt and black pepper
150g fresh or defrosted frozen peas
150g blanched fresh or defrosted frozen broad beans, skins removed
1 tbsp mint leaves, roughly torn (do this at the last minute, otherwise they will discolour)

Thinly shave three long, wide strips of skin off the lemon (avoiding the bitter white pith), then grate the rest of the skin to give you a teaspoon and a half of grated zest. Squeeze the juice to give you a tablespoon.

Heat the oil on a medium flame in a medium saute pan for which you have a lid and, once hot but not bubbling, add the garlic and spring onions. Turn down the heat to medium-low and cook gently until the garlic just starts to take on a little colour – about five minutes.

Add the mangetout, sugar snaps, asparagus, lemon strips, orzo, 400ml water, a teaspoon and a quarter of salt and a generous grind of black pepper. Raise the heat to medium, bring to a simmer, then cover and leave to cook for 10 minutes, until al dente.

Stir in the peas and broad beans, and cook, uncovered, for another two minutes, then turn off the heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice. Garnish with the mint and serve.

  • Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay. Food assistant: Katy Gilhooly

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