One of the things I love about visiting any farmer’s market is that whilst you often go with a list of the things you need you almost invariably come home with something unexpected, a beautiful seasonal fruit or vegetable that’s caught your eye and which you are prepared to change your cooking plans for! A previous visit to the mercato contandino in Mondovi inspired an Italian torte de mela (apple cake). I also have a bit of a thing for stuffed zucchini flowers, of which more later…
Sadly due to COVID-19 the market in Mondovi – like all others across Italy – had to close for several many months but recently it’s reopened and after a cautious few weeks is now bustling on a Saturday morning. When I visited recently I came across some fresh green peas in their pods which I couldn’t resist. Peas are normally regarded as a side dish or end up in a pea and mint soup, of which I’m not a fan. So after a quick search online I found this recipe from the Wallflower Kitchen for green pea fritters and decided to give it a try. These fritters are unexpectedly good, rather like falafel due to the use of chick pea flour and delicious served with a yoghurt dip (use soy yoghurt if you want to keep things vegan)
2 cups peas (I used fresh but you could equally use frozen) 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for baking 1 large white onion, diced 3 garlic cloves, minced 1 1/2 cups chickpea flour (gram flour) 1 tsp bicarbonate soda A pinch of salt 2 tbsp mixed fresh or dried herbs, finely chopped (I used marjoram from my garden)
The first thing I needed to do was take the peas out of their pods. Obviously you can skip this step if you are using frozen peas…the taste will be the same but you will sadly miss out on the experience! Add the peas to a medium saucepan, cover with water, boil for 3 or 4 minutes and then drain well.
Next, heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes, until softened. Chop the herbs. Add the peas, onions and garlic to a food processor and pulse until it becomes a thick paste. Alternatively, you can use a masher to mix it by hand. Stir in the chickpea flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and herbs to create a thick green mixture. Divide the mixture into 6 or 8 balls and flatten into fritters using extra chickpea flour to stop everything getting too sticky. Finally, place the fritters on a greased baking tray and brush with olive oil.
The fritters should be baked in a medium hot oven (approx. 200 degrees) for around 15-18 minute. Flip them over half way so that both sides become golden brown. They can be served hot or cold – both are delicious! Apparently they can also be frozen but mine never got that far…