Peas, sautéed with bacon (sometimes jamón) is a very popular starter on a Menú del Día in Barcelona. The bacon can be swapped for small prawns (see here) and I’ve even seen it as a main course with an egg cooked on top. Some recipes, further south, call for the addition of pimetón.
At La Catedra, on a typical menú, the peas and bacon come with a little chopped egg mixed in.
Guisantes Salteados con Beicon (serves 2 as a starter):
200g smoked streaky bacon (chopped)
200g onion (finely chopped)
3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
500g fresh shelled peas (or frozen)
200ml chicken stock
a splash dry white wine
1 bay leaf
a pinch of thyme
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper
Shell the peas and put them into a saucepan with cold water and a couple of turns of sea salt. I prefer fresh peas, but there’s no reason why frozen can’t be used as a substitute.
Bring to a boil and then simmer for 2 -3 minutes, until almost tender.
Strain the peas through a sieve and plunge into cold water with a few ice cubes to refresh them, stop the cooking and keep their bright green colour.
Chop the bacon and fry in a little olive oil. When it has browned, reserve to a plate.
Gently fry (sofreír) the chopped onion in the bacon pan – add more olive oil (as required) to keep the onion moist and stop it sticking. Stir often!
When the onion’s soft and sticky, mix in the garlic and bacon. Save a little bacon to use as a garnish.
Drain the peas and add them to the frying pan. Pour on a splash of dry white wine and the chicken stock. Sprinkle on cracked back pepper (to taste), a large pinch of thyme and don’t forget the bay leaf.
Allow the stock to reduce, but don’t overcook the peas or they will loose their bright green colour.