Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Asparagus & pea shoots mousse

I had this post ready when I have received an invitation to celebrate National Vegetarian Week , so I decided not to change my post, but write more about one of my favourite greens that seems to be not very popular – pea shoots.

They are British, seasonal (May-September) and extremely tasty. Leaves are very delicate, stems refreshing and crunchy, quite sweet. I use to go to my Granny’s allotment and eat peas straight from a pod. When I ate all peas I use to chew the pods – I love their taste. After years I found this distinctive pea flavour in pea shoots. 

Also they are versatile: eat them hot or cold, in a salad or as a tasty ingredient in other dishes, add them to stir fry and soups, or just use as an alternative to more traditional salad leaves. They look quite fancy so are very good for garnishing the dishes.

And just to convience you even more - they are very good for you - packed with vitamins A, C and folic acid and low in calories. 

If you have a chance to try – go ahead, they are very tasty!

I have found a recipe for asparagus mousse in “Goof Food”, May issue, however I thought is was lacking seasoning. So I added salt, pepper and lemon juice and instead of spinach I used pea shoots. Without seasoning it was very bland. 

I served it in two versions: one vegetarian, other with dried ham. Both delicious.

Serves 4


250g green asparagus, wooden bottoms removed, rest sliced finely  
tbsp butter
tbsp lemon juice  
280ml double cream  
200ml milk
garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
handful of pea shoots  
3 gelatine leaves(or agar-agar for vegetarian version)
freshly ground black pepper
one egg white

To garnish

handful of pea shoots
3 tsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
slice or two of dried ham, such as Italian prosciutto, Parma Ham, shredded

Melt the butter in a pan and add the asparagus, then cook for 4-5 minutes until soft but not coloured. Remove from the pan and set aside in a bowl. 

Pour the cream, milk and garlic into the pan. Bring to the boil, simmer until reduced to 350-400ml then add the asparagus and boil for a minute. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool down slightly.

Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water, then drain and remove excess of water. 

Add pea shoots to the cream and asparagus and using hand blender liquidise it to a smooth pure. Season with salt, pepper and some more lemon juice and add gelatine leaves. Stir well.

Beat the egg white to soft peaks, and then carefully fold into the asparagus mix. Adjust seasoning if needed. Divide the mousse between 4 glasses or ramekins and leave them to set in the fridge.

Remove from a fridge about 20 minutes before serving. Garnish with some pea shoots and drizzle with dressing made from olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. For other version garnish with ham together with pea shoots. It actually goes very well with this mousse.

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