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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Rosie Sykes

Rosie Sykes’ budget recipes with frozen peas

Rosie Sykes’ pea and potato pav bhaji.
Deliciously spreadable: Rosie Sykes’ pea and potato pav bhaji. Photograph: Yuki Sugiura/The Guardian

Cooked as soon as they are picked and frozen soon after, frozen peas retain all the vegetable’s sweet, fresh flavour. They are very comforting and easy to transform into all sorts: pea soup, for instance, takes mere minutes, while crushed peas with a good dose of butter or olive oil go well with anything from fish fingers to poached eggs, or even stirred through pasta – the possibilities are endless. Frozen peas are an essential when you’re cooking on a budget, so even if you have just an ice box, make sure you keep a small bag of peas in there at all times.

Pea and potato pav bhaji (pictured top)

This deliciously spoonable/spreadable curry eaten on bread rolls (pav) is one of Mumbai’s most popular street foods. I was introduced to it by my baker friend, Adam, though this version is simpler than his, mainly to keep costs down. If you can get hold of pav bhaji masala powder, so much the better – its defining trait is mango powder, for which I’ve substituted lemon zest and juice.

Prep 15 min
Cook 35 min
Serves 4

3 potatoes, peeled and chopped into 3cm cubes
Sea salt and black pepper
½ tsp ground turmeric
300g frozen peas
35g butter
1 tbsp oil
2 medium onions
, peeled and finely diced
1 fresh red chilli
1 red, yellow or green pepper, stalk, pith and seeds discarded, flesh finely diced (or 120g frozen sliced peppers, defrosted and chopped up a bit)
4 tomatoes, chopped into small dice
Zest and juice of ½ lemon
20g fresh coriander
, stalks finely chopped, leaves roughly chopped
1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
1 tbsp garam masala, or pav bhaji masala
A pinch of chilli powder
4 white rolls
, split in half

Put the potatoes in a pan, pour in enough cold water just to cover, then add a generous dose of salt, some black pepper and the turmeric. Bring to a boil, then simmer until soft – keep an eye on the water in the pan, because you don’t want it to boil dry; equally, you don’t want to strain off at lot of water at the end. When the potatoes are collapsing, add the peas and, if it’s looking dry, a dash more water, cook for five minutes more, then strain the cooking liquor into a bowl and reserve it. Roughly mash the potatoes and peas.

Meanwhile, heat 15g butter and the oil in a second medium-sized pan, then add all but a heaped tablespoon of the onions and some salt. Once they start to sizzle, turn the heat right down, cover and leave to cook for six to eight minutes, to soften. Check on them from time to time: if they are taking on a lot of colour (a little is OK), stir in a splash of water. Once the onions are soft, add the chilli, sliced pepper, tomato, lemon zest and coriander stalks, turn up the heat and cook, stirring regularly, for a few minutes. Once the tomatoes have softened right down, add the ginger and garlic paste, stir for a minute, then stir in three-quarters of a tablespoon of garam masala and cook for a minute or two longer.

Add the reserved cooking liquor, then stir in the mash and cook, stirring constantly, until the mix has a loose, spreadable consistency that will smear nicely on bread. Add a few tablespoons of water to loosen, if need be, simmer for a few minutes, so all the flavours intensify, then stir in the lemon juice and season to taste.

Leave the curry to sit on a low heat while you melt the remaining butter in a large frying pan. Set aside a third of the melted butter, stir the remaining quarter-tablespoon of garam masala and the chilli powder into the rest, then lay in the bread rolls cut down in the spicy butter, to absorb it, and heat up.

Stir the chopped coriander into the curry and pour the reserved melted butter on top.

Spoon some curry on to the base of a roll, top with some of the reserved raw onion, coriander, an optional squeeze of lemon and the roll’s lid, then tuck in.

Green eggs

Rosie Sykes’ green eggs.
Summer vibes: Rosie Sykes’ green eggs. Photograph: Yuki Sugiura/The Guardian

This is a lovely, soupy, seasonal veg stew that you can add to or subtract from, depending on what you have to hand or on what’s looking good. Frozen peas hold the key to the sweet, light summer vibes, though. You could also use frozen spinach and beans, which make it an economical year-round dish.

Prep 10 min
Infuse 5 min+
Cook 25 min
Serves 4

1 vegetable or chicken stock cube
3 sprigs fresh mint
, leaves picked, stalks reserved
Sea salt and black pepper
200g greens, finely shredded
4 spring onions, trimmed as little as possible, then finely sliced
300g frozen peas
100g french beans
, topped and chopped into 2cm pieces
80g orzo or pastina
80g creme fraiche
1 medium
garlic clove, peeled and finely grated or crushed
4 eggs

Boil the kettle, then pour 700ml boiling water into a medium casserole dish for which you have a lid and that can fit under the grill. Crumble in the stock cube, throw in the mint stalks, a good pinch of salt and a grind of pepper, then bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the stock cube. Turn off the heat, then leave to infuse for at least five minutes, and ideally up to 30 if you have the time.

Lift out and discard the mint stalks, then add the shredded greens and spring onions, bring to a simmer and cook for three minutes. Add the peas, beans and pasta, bring back to a simmer and cook for eight to 10 minutes, until soft.

While the vegetables are cooking, finely chop the mint leaves, then stir into the creme fraiche with the garlic and season.

Heat the grill to high, or turn on the oven to the highest it can go. One at a time, break the eggs into a small cup, then gently slide each of them into a different corner of the pan. Give the broth around each egg a little stir, so the whites start to set, then cover and simmer for three or so minutes, until the whites are well on their way to being set.

Blob some of the creme fraiche mixture on each egg, drop the rest all around the top of the stew, then grill or bake for three or four minutes, until the cream turns golden brown. Serve warm in shallow bowls.

  • Rosie Sykes is a chef and food writer. Her next book, Every Last Bite: 70 Recipes to Save Time, Money and Resources, will be published by Quadrille next year.

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