Smashed broad beans, peas and mint with homemade ricotta recipe

Neil Perry
Neil Perry's homemade ricotta with smashed broad beans, peas and mint.
Neil Perry's homemade ricotta with smashed broad beans, peas and mint. Photo: William Meppem
Dietary
Gluten-free

Here's a truly smashing way of serving up seasonal vegies. You can cheat and use ready-made ricotta for this dish but once you've tasted it freshly made and still warm, you'll wonder why you ever bought it. If you can't get the little baskets to set the ricotta in (try online), use muslin and hang over a bowl to drain off the whey. You can find rennet in speciality food stores or online.

Ingredients

1 litre full-cream milk

¼ cup pure cream

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

¼ tsp rennet (animal or vegetable)

1 small zucchini, finely sliced into rounds

½ lemon, juice and zest 

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

½ long red chilli, finely chopped

1kg broad beans, in their pods

500g fresh peas, in their pods

handful of mint leaves, shredded

large handful of snow pea tendrils

fresh sourdough toast, to serve (gluten-free if required)

Method

For ricotta

1. Heat milk, cream and 1 tsp sea salt in a saucepan until it reaches 82°C, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool to 40°C, about 1 hour.

2. Mix rennet with ½ cup water. Whisk this into the milk mixture. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes, until set but still quite soft.

3. With a wooden spoon, make a cross in the mixture, then slowly stir milk in one direction around edge of pot, so that the curds begin to separate from the whey. Continue to stir gently until you have gathered a large mass of curds. Don't over-mix it or you will end up with a grainy texture. Rest mixture again for 10 minutes.

4. Gently spoon the curds into a ricotta basket with a one-litre capacity (the baskets have holes to let the whey continue to drain), or drain through muslin. Continue to drain for at least 2 hours.

For vegies

5. Place zucchini in a bowl with 2 tbsp lemon juice, 2 tbsp oil and the chopped chilli. Season with salt and pepper. Marinate for about 10 minutes.

6. Pod broad beans and peas. Blanch broad beans in boiling salted water for 1 minute. Refresh in iced water, drain, then peel away second skin. Blanch peas for 2 minutes until al dente, then refresh and drain.

7. Lightly pound peas, beans, mint and ½ tsp salt in a mortar with a pestle. Add pepper and remaining olive oil, then mix. Add this to the zucchini and stir through. Check seasoning.

8. Spoon ricotta onto a large serving plate. Place snow pea tendrils and spring vegetable mixture over the ricotta. Drizzle with a little more oil, a good grind of pepper and serve immediately with freshly toasted sourdough.