Thomasina Miers’ brown pasta with broad beans and rocket pesto: ‘Make sure you buy your beans small, tender and sweet.’ Photograph: Johanna Parkin for the Guardian. Food styling: Maud EdenFrom rocket pesto with young broad beans to a lemony, eggy classic Greek stew, there’s so much you can do with early summer veg.What a great time of year for vegetables – I could happily munch my body weight in asparagus, beans and peas every day, especially if I had a wedge of pecorino or parmesan, some good olive oil and lots of lemon. They are so versatile and, being bang in season, relatively cheap, it’s well worth buying heaps and experimenting. Chillies make great bedfellows for broad beans and peas: at Wahaca, we’re currently serving summer pea empanadas with a fruity habanero salsa, and I adore broad bean puree flecked with fresh red chilli. Just make sure you buy your beans small, tender and sweet; they go tough and bitter with age.
Brown pasta with broad beans and rocket pesto
When rocket is blitzed into pesto, it loses much of its peppery bite and becomes sweeter. It works very well with broad beans and nutty wholewheat pasta. Serves four.
2 large handfuls rocket (about 100g)
25g pine nuts
1 fat clove garlic, peeled
30g parmesan, plus extra to serve
200ml olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
400g wholewheat conchiglie (aka shell pasta)
300g podded young broad beans (fresh or frozen)
Wash and dry the rocket. Toast the nuts in a dry frying pan on a medium heat until pale golden. Put them in a food processor, add the garlic, parmesan and rocket, and blitz to a paste. Squeeze in the lemon juice to loosen, add a few slugs of olive oil and blitz again to a smooth, vivid green puree. Add all but two tablespoons of the remaining oil, blitz briefly to combine and season to taste – it can take quite a bit, and add more lemon if you like.
Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Meanwhile, blanch the beans in simmering water for a few minutes, until tender. Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the water, and toss the pasta and beans in a few generous tablespoons of pesto. Add two or three tablespoons of the pasta water, to bring the sauce together, season and add pesto to taste. At this stage, the pasta may be a touch dry, so add a splash more cooking water, if need be.
Serve in bowls, drizzled with the remaining oil, a hunk of parmesan on the table for grating, and perhaps with a salad of baby gem, sprouting seeds, apple and shallots.
Greek spring vegetable stew with avgolemono
A lovely way to eat summer veg: they’re cooked until soft in a gorgeous, filling soup enriched with egg and sharpened with lemon. To make it vegetarian, use vegetable stock or water. Serves four to six.
3 tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
300g jersey royal potatoes, scrubbed (cut large ones in half)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
300g podded broad beans (fresh or frozen)
300g podded peas (fresh or frozen)
300g asparagus, tough ends discarded, sliced thickly on the diagonal
400ml hot chicken stock
Juice of 1 lemon
1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, picked and finely chopped
1 small bunch dill, picked and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and cut in half
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Slice the baguette on the bias, and brush each slice liberally with olive oil on both sides. Season, place on an oven tray and bake for 10 minutes, until pale golden and crisp.
Meanwhile, in a large pan over a medium-low heat, warm up the olive oil and sweat the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt for 10-12 minutes, until soft and sweet.
Put the potatoes in a pan of cold, salted water, cook until just tender, then drain. At the same time, bring a second pan of salted water to a boil, blanch the broad beans for a minute or so, then add the peas and asparagus and cook for three to four minutes. Drain (reserve the water to use as stock; there will be lots of flavour in it). Pour cold running water over the green vegetables, to stop them cooking, then set aside. Stir the potatoes into the onions, pour over the hot stock and bring to a simmer.
You can make the dish up to this point well in advance. When ready to eat, add the green vegetables to the soup and bring to a simmer. Beat the eggs in a bowl with the lemon juice, stir in five tablespoons of hot broth from the pan (doing this means the eggs won’t cook in the stew), then stir back into the stew with all the chopped herbs.
Rub the toasts with the cut side of the garlic and drizzle on a little more oil. Check and adjust the seasoning of the stew and serve with croutons floating on top; for a richer, more special finish, top each crouton with a little goat’s cheese.
And for the rest of the week…
The rocket pesto will keep for a week or two if covered with a layer of olive oil to seal. I love it on grilled peppers, courgettes and aubergines for a warm, summery salad; or in jacket potatoes with lots of butter and feta; or as a salad dressing (add more lemon juice, or vinegar, for acidity). Fresh broad beans and peas should be eaten as soon as possible, so blanch and toss into salads or eat with butter and mint, or mash into a puree to have as part of a mezze. Use up any leftover herbs by finely chopping and tossing into salads or steamed vegetables; or mix into softened butter with a little salt and crushed garlic, and freeze so you’ve got garlic butter for a rainy day .
• Thomasina Miers is co-owner of the Wahaca group of Mexican restaurants.