Skye McAlpine's Picnic Panzanella with Garden Peas & Baby Artichokes #LeithsTakeovers

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Skye McAlpine's Picnic Panzanella with Garden Peas & Baby Artichokes #LeithsTakeovers

Photography © Skye McAlpine

Add Skye McAlpine's summery green panzanella with garden peas to your picnic list this week. #LeithsTakeovers

I’m a huge fan of picnics: there’s something about eating on the ground, often bare foot and lazing under the dappled shade of a big tree, that always feels like you’re living out the pages of a dreamy picture book. It’s innately a special treat. This year, more than ever before, is the year of the picnic: it’s just such a simple way to bring lots of friends together - outdoors, no matter if your kitchen is tiny. Picnic food is also possibly my favourite kind of food: really good sandwiches; savoury tarts; crudités with thick, glossy homemade mayonnaise for dipping; charcuterie; hard cheeses; and punnets of glorious, sweet summer fruits. A bottle or two of cloudy lemonade (or ginger beer) is, in my view, an absolute imperative. I’m also a big fan of what I call ‘substantial salads’ for picnics, the kind of dishes that combine all sorts of scrumptious bits under the guise of a salad, but really more closely resemble a main course: cold pasta salads are good, of course (I’m thinking the good Italian kind, doused in heaps of olive oil with chunks of juicy fresh tomato and creamy white mozzarella); but I especially love this summery green panzanella.

Panzanella, in most of its incarnations, is a riot of colour, but this variation is an ode to the verdant plenty of spring: a sumptuous green salad, only amplified. I use those tender baby artichokes that are so small and sweet you can eat the choke, or else the chargrilled kind you find packed in glossy olive oil in jars. Feel free to add to the mix as you please: a few stems of slender asparagus either raw or lightly chargrilled, shavings of fennel, or just-blanched, podded broad beans. You could also slip in a few oily, salty anchovies.

Whereas most panzanella will keep – indeed improve in flavour – with time, lettuce tends to wilt if left sitting around for more than 30 minutes. If you want to prepare this in advance, leave out the leaves and soft herbs, then throw them in just before serving.

Ingredients

Serves 4

Panzanella with Garden Peas & Baby Artichokes
200g stale crusty bread, such as baguette or ciabatta
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
150g shelled sweet garden peas
6–8 baby artichokes, or chargrilled artichokes in a jar, finely sliced
2 spring onions, finely chopped
2 Baby Gem lettuces
A handful of mint leaves
A handful of basil leaves
Sea salt flakes

Instructions

  1. Roughly tear the bread into pieces and throw it into a large bowl.
  2. In a second bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice and a generous pinch of salt, whisk vigorously with a fork, then drizzle over the bread.
  3. Now add the peas, artichokes and spring onions, then toss together well to dress all the ingredients.
  4. When you’re ready to go to the table, roughly tear the lettuce leaves, mint and basil, throw them in the bowl, then toss one last time before serving.



Extract taken from A Table for Friends: The Art of Cooking for Two or Twenty by Skye McAlpine (£26, Bloomsbury)

Skye McAlpine

Author: Skye McAlpine

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