English Garden Toasts
These little toasts are a riot of colour and represent all that is great about English gardens in spring. The first radishes, roasted until they sweeten, the sweet peas, and some allium or chive flowers, if you can get them, add some prettiness as well as a punch of flavour.
These go particularly well with a glass of ice-cold rosé outside on a warm day. I use the dip-dyed pink and white breakfast radishes here, but the regular round ones would work really well too. We eat this for a late evening dinner but I’d proudly serve this as a quick starter too. They are also great at a picnic or a party; just double or triple the recipe for a crowd.
a bunch of radishes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, finely sliced
the zest and juice of 1⁄2 unwaxed lemon
200g podded fresh peas
a small bunch of mint
4 slices of good bread, such as sourdough
salted butter (optional)
100g soft goat’s cheese or ricotta
a few allium flowers, or chopped chives (optional)
Preheat your oven to 200oC/180oC fan/gas 6.
Put the radishes, keeping the tops intact (if you have them), on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then roast in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the tops are crisp and the radishes have turned a softer, more mellow pink.
Fill and put the kettle on. Put your sliced onion in a little bowl with a good pinch of salt and the lemon juice. Scrunch it all together with your hands. Leave to one side to continue to lightly pickle.
Pour the boiling water from the kettle into a small saucepan, add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil again. Cook the peas for a few minutes, then drain. Mash them a little with a potato masher or in a large pestle and mortar. Add the lemon zest, then a good pinch of salt and black pepper. Finely chop most of the mint (saving a few little leaves for later) and stir through the peas.
Once the radishes are roasted, toast or griddle your bread. Drizzle with a little olive oil or spread with a little salted butter. Pile the peas on the toasted bread, drain the now-bright-purple onions from their liquid and dot on top of the peas. Crumble the goat’s cheese on top and scatter with radishes. Finish with the remaining mint, and some allium flowers or chopped chives, if you like.
IMAGE: Ana Cuba
RECIPE FROM: The Modern Cook’s Year