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I shared a little teaser for this steam oven pea and broad bean crostini on my Instagram feed this week, phrasing it ‘wait till you see what I can do with 6 minutes, a steam oven and some frozen green veg’.
People, I was not lying, but I’m almost ashamed to share this and call it a ‘steam oven recipe’ when it could, in fact, be done pretty effectively with a stove top steamer pan in the same time.
I mentioned this to a friend, who responded that if she had a steam oven she would want to know ALL the ways in which she could use it to justify the space and expense it incurred. She said until she started reading my blog she thought they were only useful appliances if you like to eat a diet solely comprised of plain steamed vegetables and tasteless white protein in the form of chicken breasts and fish.
So there you go.
Steamed vegetables, yes. But plain, nope. And not a piece of tasteless protein in sight.
This pea and broad bean number falls squarely into the simple hacks category but also squarely into the ‘some of my favourite things for quick lunches’ category.
I first came across the idea of smashed pea crostini in Jamie’s Italy several years ago, and have made it in a few iterations since. This one, with heaps of fresh mint and the citrusy spike of preserved lemon, is my favourite.
I made a big bowl of the pea/bean smash this week along with some whipped feta, which is not at all steam oven related but I’ve shared details below in case you’re curious. Apart from using them both to top garlicky toast as pictured, I’ve stirred them through hot pasta with a big spoonful of yoghurt and used as a spread inside flatbreads filled with grilled vegetables and haloumi cheese. I highly recommend all versions.
As far as using the steam oven goes, I used frozen baby peas and broad beans and steamed them for just long enough to blanch and bring out the colour (if you can find fresh veg by all means use it instead, just knock a couple of minutes off the steaming time). They were put in to steam straight from frozen, and the very hardest part of the whole exercise was popping the beans from their outer skins after blanching. It takes all of a couple of minutes and is strangely satisfying to squeeze each little bean until the bright green insides shoot out into the food processor bowl.
So there you go. I hope if you’ve so far only considered the steam oven in terms of making a dish from beginning to end, this will give you an idea of how to begin using it as a kitchen ‘helper’ as well – just as you don’t always use a frypan to create a dish from start to finish, nor do you need to use the steam oven that way. Make it work for you with the little jobs too!
Pea and Fava Bean Crostini with Whipped Feta
For the smashed peas and beans
- 2 cups baby peas frozen is fine
- 2 cups fava beans broad beans, frozen is fine
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves a very large handful
- 2 tbs preserved lemon 1/4 of a whole lemon, flesh and pith discarded, skin finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 4 tbs olive oil you may need a little more if the mixture is too thick
For the whipped feta
- 7 oz feta cheese room temperature, roughly crumbled
- 3 1/2 oz cream cheese about half a cup, room temperature, cubed
- 6 slices ciabatta bread or sourdough, toasted
- 1 clove garlic halved, cut sides rubbed over each piece of toast
- 1 tbs olive oil for drizzling, optional but delicious
- 8 sugar snap peas finely sliced for garnish, optional
For the pea and bean smash
- Set your oven to 100⁰C, steam only (100% humidity). Put the peas and beans into a shallow pan in a single layer and steam for 4-5 minutes, until they’re hot but not overly cooked.
- While the vegetables are in the oven, drop the mint leaves into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to chop them. Add the diced preserved lemon and pulse briefly again.
- As soon as the beans are cool enough to touch, pop each one out of its greyish outer skin and drop the bright green insides into the food processor with the mint and lemon. When you’re done, tip the peas in as well.
- Pulse the processor to chop everything roughly, then, with the motor running, pour in your oil slowly, using just enough so the mix comes together as a cohesive mass. The idea is to chop the peas and beans fairly well but not to make a smooth paste out of them.
For the whipped feta
- Scrape the smashed peas and beans into a bowl and rinse the food processor (unless you’re fine with green flecks in the feta, which would be totally ok with me if I came to your house). Put both cheeses into the processor and run it for a few minutes until you’ve got a very creamy, smooth consistency.
- Load your garlicky toast with the whipped feta then the smashed peas and beans. Drizzle with a little oil and eat immediately.
- The quantities given make enough to cover 4-6 large pieces of toast, or 6-8 medium ones.
- The smashed peas/beans will last for 2-3 days in the fridge, covered with cling film directly on its surface to stop browning. The whipped feta keeps for 4-5 days in the fridge in an airtight container.
- If you don’t have preserved lemons on hand, go and buy them or make some right now to keep in your fridge because they are super easy and will last for ages and make all your meals sing. Kidding (well, sort of. They are pretty great). Just shower a bit of finely grated lemon zest over the top of your crostini, or omit it altogether because the greens on their own are still fabulous.
- The whipped feta is incredibly easy save for one thing which I learned the hard way: both the cheeses need to be at room temperature or you’ll be cursing the big cold clumps flying around in your processor and steadfastly refusing to become the creamy, salty delight you’re after. Don’t be like me and make an easy task stupidly hard.
- If you aren’t making the whipped feta you might like to add a good pinch of salt to the greens to balance things out.
But I don’t have a steam/combi-steam oven! Steam your peas and beans in a stovetop steamer basket for a few minutes instead of using the steam oven. If you don’t have a steamer basket, you can boil them in a pinch, but you’ll lose some of the nutrients and some of the flavour in doing so.