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.
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
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
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.
Tags: artificial flavours