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Gennaro Contaldo’s ‘fresh pea and burrata salad’

This is a lovely salad to make during the spring, when fresh peas are available. For speed, you can buy ready-podded peas. Burrata is a fresh cheese from Puglia which looks like mozzarella but has a very creamy interior. Good Italian delis will stock it, but if you prefer, you can use bufala (buffalo) mozzarella instead. This dish makes a fantastic starter or can be enjoyed as a delicious, light lunch, accompanied by the crostini.

 

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves 4

175 g/6 oz fresh peas, podded weight

85 g/3 oz watercress leaves of 2 Gem lettuce hearts

250 g/9 oz burrata, or buffalo mozzarella

For the crostini:

50 g/1¾ oz/1/3 cup sunflower seeds

a handful of fresh basil leaves

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

a pinch of sea salt

a pinch of dried chilli (hot red pepper) flakes

4 slices of good-quality crusty, seeded wholemeal bread, toasted

For the dressing:

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp lemon juice

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, add the peas and cook for about 2 minutes, until tender but not overcooked. Drain, rinse under cold running water and drain well.

Meanwhile, prepare the crostini. Place the sunflower seeds, basil leaves and olive oil in a blender or food processor and whiz until you obtain a smooth consistency. Combine with the salt and chilli flakes. Toast the bread and spread with the sunflower seed paste. Set aside.

Combine the dressing ingredients.

Arrange the watercress and Gem lettuce leaves on a large serving plate, sprinkle over the cooked peas, and pour over half of the dressing. Gently break up the burrata or mozzarella and scatter over the greens. Drizzle with the remaining dressing and serve with the crostini on the side.

The featured recipe is from Gennaro Contaldo’s Fast Cook Italian, published by Pavilion Books.