I’m one of the few weirdos who thinks that British pub food is a cuisine to be sought out and cherished. That’s partially because a good portion of the menu takes a bath in a deep fryer before ending up in front of you. But my love can also be blamed on the peas.
Mushy peas as a national delicacy could use a little rebranding. It sounds like something you’d find in a prison cafeteria. And most of the time, due to the quest for mushiness, it ends up looking like something you’d find there as well. But even in it’s most unappealing overcooked form, mushy peas are delicious.
I don’t think I ever ate mushy peas as a child, but eating them now makes me feel like one. You don’t need molars in order to enjoy them, but due to the texture (or lack there of) I prefer using the peas as a condiment to slather on fish and chips. So toast, another childhood standby, seemed as good an option as any to carry a mound of green, mushy goodness.
Pub peas are best when fluffed up with a bit of butter. But since this dish came out of my kitchen I kept it healthier with some oil and very little else. When you buy good organic sweet peas (even frozen ones will do), you don’t need many embellishments. And if you cook them just right, they stay that vibrant green even after you mush them.
Sweet pea crostini is one of my favorite recipes from my cookbook. This version is even more simplified – mainly just peas and gluten-free toast. But I added a little hit of mint to up the freshness factor in hopes that this dish would never be mistaken for something you’d find in a nursing home again.
Mushy Pea Toasts with Mint
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small sweet onion diced
- 1 large garlic clove minced
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
- ¼ cup white wine
- 16 ounces peas fresh or frozen
- ¼ cup tightly packed mint leaves plus more for garnish, thinly sliced
- 8 slices white bread or 1 baguette, thinly sliced (I used gluten-free Udi's)
Preheat the broiler.
In a medium lidded pot or saucepan heat the oil oil. Saute the onion over medium heat until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, and chili flakes. Cook one more minute, until fragrant. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the peas and mint; cover, and cook until vibrant green and tender, about 5 minutes for frozen, 2 minutes for fresh. Remove from the heat and puree with an immersion or stand blender until coarse (you don't want it completely smooth). Taste for seasoning and add more salt as necessary. Pea mixture can be made up to 3 days in advance.
When ready to eat, arrange the bread on a baking sheet and toast under the broiler until golden brown on both sides. Slather each piece with the pea mixture. Garish with additional mint, a drizzle of olive oil, and some freshly grated pecorino (optional).
I used Udi's Gluten-Free bread.