Celebration of Garden Peas
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    Serves 8
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Peas, glorious peas! Such an underrated vegetable, peas are loved by many but equally disliked by others. Mr P and I both love peas and coming up with this recipe, which is very popular at the British Larder Suffolk, was a joy.

Selling this starter is not always an easy task for Kevin, Laura and the team, though. They talk about its deliciousness and hope that people will enjoy it, but when I say goodbye to customers at the end of their visit, I usually get high praise for this particular dish. I think it’s because it’s unusual and also not what people would expect. Even in the deepest darkest days of winter regulars still refer to this dish.photo of Celebration of Garden Peas

I call this a party pleaser, as it’s easy to prepare in advance and feeds a crowd. The pea mousse can be set in metal rings to be unmoulded on the plates, or as we did for a party last week, set the mousse in small bowls and then garnish with the salad and fritters to make individual servings.photo of Celebration of Garden Peas

Ingredients & Method

For the pea mousse

  • 50ml milk
  • 200ml double cream
  • 150g (podded weight) fresh garden peas, blanched, drained and cooled (see Cook’s Notes)
  • 2g agar agar powder sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the wholemeal pea fritters

  • 50g plain wholemeal flour
  • 50g plain white flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 100ml buttermilk
  • 100g (podded weight) fresh garden peas, blanched, drained and cooled (see Cook’s Notes), then crushed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mixed fresh mint, oregano and chervil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped spring onions rapeseed oil, for cooking

For the garden pea salad

  • 100g (podded weight) fresh garden peas, blanched, drained and cooled (see Cook’s Notes), then crushed
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
  • 80ml classic vinaigrette
  • 100g sugar snap peas, cut in half lengthways
  • 80g fresh pea tops (pea cress)
  • 2 green courgettes, shaved (or thinly sliced) into long ribbons

For the pea mousse, prepare eight 5 x 4cm metal rings by covering the outside of each one with foil, then place them on a tray in the fridge. Put the milk and cream into a small saucepan with salt and pepper and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Meanwhile, blend the peas and agar agar together in a blender to form a paste, then season with salt and pepper. Pour the hot cream over the pea mixture and blend for 30 seconds, then return the mixture to the pan, bring to the boil over a high heat and boil for 1 minute. Immediately pour the mixture into the prepared rings, dividing evenly. Leave to set at room temperature for 30 minutes and then transfer to the fridge to chill and set for a minimum of 1 hour. The pea mousse can be made up to 2 days in advance.

For the fritters, mix the flours and baking powder in a bowl, then stir in the egg yolks, buttermilk, crushed peas, herbs, spring onions and salt and pepper – do not over-mix, a few lumps will be fine. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, then fold into the pea batter and leave to rest for 10 minutes. If the batter is too thick, then add a bit more buttermilk. You are looking for a thick dropping consistency. This batter can be made up to 6 hours in advance, but should be used on the same day that it is made. If making in advance, cover and refrigerate until you are ready to use it.

When you are ready to serve, cook the fritters in 2–3 batches. Heat 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Drop teaspoonfuls of the batter into the pan (cook 6–8 fritters at a time), cook the fritters for 2 minutes on one side, flip them over and cook for a further minute or so until cooked (turn the heat down if they start to colour too much). Drain on kitchen paper and keep the fritters warm while the rest are cooked. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding a little more oil to the pan, if necessary.

To serve the salad, mix the crushed peas with the mint, salt and pepper and a dash of the vinaigrette. Turn the pea mousses out onto serving plates, scatter over the crushed minted peas, followed by the sugar snap peas and pea tops. Roll the courgette ribbons into pinwheels and place a few on each plate, followed by the warm fritters. Drizzle over a little vinaigrette and serve immediately.

Cook’s Notes
To blanch fresh (podded) peas, simply blanch them in a pan of boiling salted water for 2 minutes, then drain and plunge into a bowl of chilled water to cool them quickly. Once cold, drain and use as required.

For the pea mousse, frozen peas can be substituted for the fresh, if you like. Simply blanch, then drain and cool them before use.

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