Remember that pea puree I was talking about? Lucky for us, we had lots left over after last Sunday and we’ve been eating it obsessively ever since – mostly on torn pita wedges warmly toasted or thick cut slices of sourdough bread. John and I cooked for a friend’s engagement party last night and we had planned a lamb skewer served with beet tzatiki for the menu, but once we tasted this pea puree last weekend, neither of us could stop thinking about it. Out with the tzatiki, in with the puree.
The original recipe comes from Giada De Laurentiis. I’ve never made anything of hers before – I feel shamefully snobby for saying this but, here goes: once your cookbooks are on sale at Target, your credibility is a little questionable in my book. Terrible, right? But, my bad, because I was turning my nose up at something completely fantastic while I was busy shopping for my laundry detergent. Sorry, Giada. Sweet, creamy, minty, and vibrant green, this spread was unreal in its original incarnation served under a filet of salmon, and equally delightful with marinated and seared lamb. You could also skip the proteins all together and serve the puree just as it is with the aforementioned pita or bread.
Giada’s recipe calls for using defrosted frozen peas in the puree, and having made this twice this week, both times for a crowd, I followed suit. However, fresh peas, so plentiful this time of year (I feel ashamed just writing this), though a little more time consuming, would make a welcome substitution. Just be sure to blanch them for a couple of minutes in boiling water and chill them in an ice bath ahead of time.
In terms of the lamb, I made petite skewers on sprigs of rosemary to serve as part of a spread of appetizers. The rosemary makes a pretty presentation, but is admittedly a little persnickety to pull off (I stabbed myself a few times in the process and have been complaining ever since.) So, feel free to opt for regular wooden skewers. You could also easily make larger skewers, and with a salad on the side, turn this into a main course. I find it easier to use a cast iron pan to cook the petite skewers stovetop, but larger skewers are perfect for the grill. Serves 10-12 as an appetizer and 4 as a main dish.
For the Minted Pea Puree
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
½ cup mint leaves, cleaned and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ cup olive oil
½ cup grated parmesan
More olive oil, mint sprigs and/or pea tendrils for garnish
For the Lamb
1 ½ lbs lamb leg meat, de-boned, trimmed, and cut into bite sized pieces
3 tbsp chopped mint leaves
1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
The juice of 1 small lemon
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
24 rosemary sprigs to use as skewers
Marinate the Lamb
Combine all of the ingredients, except the rosemary sprigs, in a ceramic bowl, tupperware container, or ziplock bag. Let sit in the fridge at least 6 hours or overnight.
Make the Puree
Combine the peas, mint, garlic, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and puree until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the processor and puree once again. Transfer to a small dish and fold in the parmesan. Refrigerate until 1 hour before you are ready to serve, and then let come to room temperature.
Skewer the Lamb
Cut the rosemary sprigs into 3 inch pieces for appetizer portions, and 6 inch pieces for entrée portions. Strip each sprig of most of its leaves, save for one small bunch towards the bottom. Using a regular wooden skewer, pierce a piece of lamb to create a hole into which you can easily slip the rosemary skewer. Continue this process until all the lamb is skewered. For appetizer portions, you’ll want to do about 2 pieces per small 3 inch sprig, and for entrée size portions you’ll want to do about 5 per each larger 6 inch sprig. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
Cook the Lamb
Set a large cast iron skilled over high heat. Once hot, place half of the prepared skewers in the pan and cook 1 minute, then carefully flip the skewers over and continue cooking an additional 1 to 2 minutes on the second side. Remove from the heat and repeat with the remaining skewers.
Spread the pea puree in the center of a serving platter and garnish with olive oil and mint sprigs and/or pea tendrils. Arrange the lamb skewers around the puree. You may also want to serve some toasted or grilled bread on the side.