The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian cooking with a side helping of food politics

pea and broad bean croquettes with Thai basil sauce

pea and broad bean croquettes with Thai basil sauce

pea and broad bean croquettes with Thai basil sauce

Coming up with recipes for this blog can involve a fair amount of experimentation with flavour combinations to see which ingredients work well together, and for every recipe I post there are at least as many that never make it past the prototype stage. This recipe, for example, did not begin life as a vegan dish but is all the better for having ended up as one.

The possible permutations and combinations of ingredients available to the modern cook seem endless – nature produces such an astonishing and sumptuous range of flavours. Amongst my favourites are vanilla, garlic, Thai basil, cardamom, lemongrass, lime, star anise, mint, thyme, lavender and cumin (which Diane Henry once memorably described as smelling of “fresh sweat, sex, dust and maleness”).

We each have around a hundred thousand individual taste buds, able to detect not only the “big” headline flavour types like bitter, sweet, sour, salty and umami but also, in conjunction with our olfactory senses, able to detect subtle nuances of flavour within the boundless combinations and permutations of flavour that nature provides.

It seems bizarre, therefore, when we already have such an abundance of natural riches at our disposal, that a multi-billion dollar industry exists purely to create artificial flavours for the processed food industry.

But that artificial flavours industry exists, of course, to replace the flavours destroyed in food manufacturing processes or, in some cases, to inject flavour that was never there in the first place.

In other words, the big food manufacturers are spending billions each year pumping artificial flavourings into their processed food order to deceive us into believing we are eating something else: a stark illustration of what is so wrong with both our food industry and the way we eat.
Victorian purple podded peas
breadcrumbs with French tarragonpea and broad bean croquettes with Thai basil sauce

Lets move on to the recipe. These croquettes are packed with amazing, natural flavours, most of them – sweet Victorian Purple Podded peas, earthy superaquadulce broad beans, tangy spring onions, punchy French tarragon and Thai basil – are from my allotment plot, the Circus Garden.

French tarragon, has lovely subtle undertones of aniseed and these are echoed by the Thai basil in the accompanying sauce. With the addition of lemon and chilli these lovely, flavour-packed croquettes will have your tastebuds wishing you’d made more.

pea and broad bean croquettes with Thai basil sauce

Ingredients

250 g fresh broad beans, podded
300 g fresh peas, podded
10 g (about 2 tbsp) fresh French tarragon leaves, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
50 g chickpea flour
6 spring onions, white and green parts, finely chopped
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

for the tarragon breadcrumbs

100 g day old bread (use gluten free bread for a GF version of this recipe, otherwise ciabatta or sourdough work well)
10 g fresh tarragon leaves

for the Thai basil sauce

70 g extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp water
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
10 g fresh Thai basil leaves, finely chopped

Groundnut oil for frying


Method

1. For the breadcrumbs, place the bread in a food processor and blitz gently until the bread begins to break down into large breadcrumbs.add the chopped tarragon at this stage. Pulse again to combine. The resulting breadcrumbs should have an attractive pale green hue.

2. For the Thai basil sauce, place all the ingredients in a processor or mixer and blend to a smooth consistency. Set to one side for at least 1 hour to infuse.

2. Blanch the broad beans in a pan of boiling water for just two minutes. Drain and then immediately plunge the beans into a bowl of ice cold water before slipping the bright green beans out of their skins.

3. Place the broad beans, peas, tarragon leaves, lemon juice, gram flour, spring onions, garlic and chilli into a food processor and pulse briefly. You are aiming for the ingredients to mix together into a firm ball but to still retain some texture.

4. Place the tarragon breadcrumbs onto a large plate. Using your hands, form the pea mixture into croquettes, each weighing around 70g. Roll them gently in the breadcrumbs then place carefully onto a baking sheet. Continue until you have turned all of the mixture into croquettes (you should end up with eight). Place the croquettes in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.

3. Any croquettes you are not planning to eat straight away can be frozen at this stage. To cook the croquettes, pour the groundnut oil into a non stick frying pan to a depth of 1/2 cm. Place over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, reduce the heat slightly and carefully place the croquettes into the oil. Cook them for 3-4 minutes per side, ensuring they are golden all over. Remove from the pan and drain briefly on kitchen paper. Serve with the vinaigrette and a light salad such as, for example, pea shoot, apple and toasted hazelnuts.

http://circusgardener.com

Categories: dairy free, gluten free, savoury, vegan

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23 replies

  1. The tarragon, so notoriously challenging to match, is brilliant here.

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  2. These look delicious, I don’t use tarragon a lot as I find it a bit tricky but this combo sounds great. I love the Diane Henry description of cumin.

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    • Thank you. The aniseed flavours of tarragon and of Thai basil do go superbly well with the sweetness of the peas and earthiness of the beans in this recipe.

      The Diane Henry quote is from her book ‘Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons’, which aside from its inspiring Mediterranean recipes is written in a rich, beautiful, lyrical style, the cumin description I’ve quoted being a typical example.

      Steve

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  3. That first photo has me craving the flavours of tarragon, lemon and fresh vegetables. We were pushed for time tonight, so I bought some ready made Glamorgan sausages from the supermarket. They were more like shaped mashed potato than sausages, and I’ve just checked the ingredients and discovered they contain ‘flavouring’… no idea what flavouring it was because they really didn’t have much flavour at all. Just goes to show home grown and home made is always best!

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  4. I love the description of cumin, though I”m not sure any guy would take that as a compliment. Bravo on the recipe…looks delish!

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  5. Just want to dive into that photo, delicious.

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  6. What a wonderful recipe. Last year I was given a little plant of Russian tarragon which is supposed to be quite hardy. With our mild winter, my herb and vegetable patch looks like it’s just a bit of pretty surrounding for a massive expanse of tarragon.
    Will need to give this recipe and try to tame the wilderness 😉

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  7. Thanks for the kind comments. I think French tarragon is an unjustifiably underused herb and I’m envious of your abundant supply!

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  8. Gosh! These look gorgeous! I will pin these for later!

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  9. This recipe is right up our street and we have the beans and peas right now. I think we’ll be giving it a shot!

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  10. I really appreciate you taking the time to experiment with these flavors! I definitely want to try these out as an appetizer for my next get together. Also, I just found you using FindingVegan and am loving your blog 🙂

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  11. Thank you. I’m delighted you found my blog and I’m really grateful for your kind comments. Steve

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  12. Wow! These look delicious & vegan too – Bonus! I have everything growing in my small back garden but the Thai basil so will definitely try them using a replacement. Is Thai basil hard to grow? Maybe I should try next year I do have a space in my herb garden :o)

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    • Hi Jasmine, and thank you for your comments. Thai basil is as simple to grow as “normal” basil. I love its delicate aniseed taste. I also grow lemon basil, which I would also recommend, again easy to grow and gorgeous in salad dishes.

      Steve

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