“Ticklemore, peas and lovage.” The message, dispatched from a London hotel suite, made me blush. It sounded sweet and naughty and terribly British.
My world traveler, once home, insisted I had to try it. Cautious and curious, I acquiesced. He dropped his plans, dashed out the door and returned with a paper-wrapped packet of goat cheese. Imagine my surprise.
Ticklemore, I learned, is a ripe, firm and pleasurable goat cheese. Paired with peas dressed in the summer herbs chervil and lovage, it makes for a languid afternoon distraction. Though not the sort I had imagined.
I pulled together a version from staples on hand — mint, parsley and lemon. Less cheeky, more hometown. Still, lovely. And well worth working up an appetite.
To make this dish a “wow,” writes Lyle chef James Lowe, the peas “must be super fresh and therefore sweet and crunchy.” The longer the time from picking to plating, the more likely they are to become starchy and bitter.
Peas and Cheese
Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus time to chill
Cooking time: 2 minutes
- 3 ounces firm goat cheese, such as Ticklemore
- 1/2 ounce (about 1/2 cup, loosely packed) fresh mint leaves
- 1/2 ounce (about 1/2 cup, loosely packed) fresh parsley leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 pounds peas in the pod or 1/2 pound shelled peas
- 1 handful pea shoots and flowers
- Flaky salt, such as Maldon sea salt
- Nasturtiums or other edible flowers, optional
Slice cheese into 4 thin slabs. Settle on parchment paper and let them come to room temperature while preparing peas.
Using a mortar and pestle, mash together half the mint and half the parsley, along with a little kosher salt and pepper. Work in oil and lemon juice.
Snap the stem end off a pea pod, unzip, crack open, smile and drop peas into a measuring cup. Repeat with all pods, yielding about 1-1/2 cups or 1/2 pound shelled peas. If using shelled peas, you can skip to the next step.
Fill a quart-sized Pyrex measuring cup (or other bowl) with ice water and set aside. Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Drop in peas. Boil until peas turn tender and eerily green, about 2 minutes. Drain peas and drop into the ice bath. When cool, drain, pat dry and settle in a bowl.
Scrape dressing over the peas. Toss, cover and chill.
Into 4 small shallow bowls, divide chilled peas and their dressing. Top each with a slice of cheese. Drop remaining mint leaves, parsley leaves and the pea shoots into the bowl formerly housing the chilled peas and gently mop up any remaining dressing. Settle these lightly dressed greens on top of cheese and peas. Scatter on flaky salt and flowers. Enjoy.
Makes 4 servings.
Home on the Range is a Tribune News Service column by Leah Eskin, which offers “delicious essays and insightful recipes.”