Sweet Pea & Bellini Jelly

Just one of those things where two and two come together (click here for the video). For episode 1 of Jamie Pea's Feasts for Friends, I decided to do a pea-themed menu. I knew dessert was going to be slightly more challenging but it's not the first time I, or bakers before, have used veggies in sweet treats -- especially neutral or naturally sweet vegetables.

Two things flashed before my mind: my favourite easy-to-make, easy-to-impress dessert of the summer, the Prosecco-and-fruit jelly; and the Sweet Pea Bellini cocktail I ordered last month at the crazy cool restaurant, Grain Store, in London. I never did try the bellini there though -- the very dedicated (and absurdly well-trained) waiter came by 5 minutes after I'd ordered my drink and said, "Sorry, the pea purée just isn't up to standard today so we don't want to serve it; might I suggest our strawberry bellini instead?" (I wrinkled my nose, cracked up and asked if I could have a less "girly" drink, so ended up with an addictively smoky, slushy banana-rum daiquiri).

 Inspiration: Grain Store in London, which is famous not only for the creative, veggie-centric food but also their cocktails which are designed by one of London's leading mixologists. I'd ordered a Sweet Pea Bellini there, which inspired this recipe.

Inspiration: Grain Store in London, which is famous not only for the creative, veggie-centric food but also their cocktails which are designed by one of London's leading mixologists. I'd ordered a Sweet Pea Bellini there, which inspired this recipe.

But it stuck in my mind -- I thought harnessing the sweetness of the sugar snap pea was a great idea, especially since I prefer grassy, herbal and floral flavours over fruit (like my fave elderflower).

So when this dinner came up... two and two came together and I made my own sweet pea purée-infused bubbly, jellified to get jiggy and with complementary fruit flavours -- I choose seedless green grapes, which I also think have a zingy, grassy flavour that doesn't compete with the sweet pea. The water chestnuts in there might seem weird, but the flavour is pleasantly mild and they add a nice textural crispness to this refreshing dessert; but they are completely optional.

Make sure to prepare this the night before, or early in the morning with at least 6 hours of fridge time before inverting onto your best show-off dessert platter.

Pea and Elderflower Bellini Jelly

  • 8 leaves of gelatin (the standard leaf gelatin which come in clear or yellowish sheets measuring about 7cm X x 12 cm)
  • 1 x 750 ml bottle of Prosecco
  • 250 ml elderflower cordial (I use IKEA brand, can buy from Taobao)
  • 180g sugar snap peas 荷兰豆, stems removed then blanched and cooled in ice water
  • 25 ml lemon juice, (from about 1 lemon)
  • 400g small, green seedless grapes, washed and taken off the stem
  • Skins of 1 lemon (wide slices peeled with a vegetable peeler)
  • About 8 water chestnuts, diced
  • 4 sprigs of fresh mint leaves, plus extra to decorate
  • Flowers and pea shoots, to garnish (optional)
  1. Make sure you start your jelly the night before or at least 6 hours before dinner. In a big bowl, soak the gelatin leaves in cool water. In a separate big bowl, pour the whole bottle of prosecco in and the lemon juice.
  2. Warm the elderflower cordial in the microwave for about 1 minute on medium-high heat until hot but not boiling. Add the sugar snap peas to the elderflower syrup and use a stick blender to puree. Use a strainer set over another bowl to remove the fibrous extras of the beans, and collect the smooth pea + elderflower syrup liquid. If you want the jelly to be more transparent and shiny, you can add one or two layers of kitchen paper towel inside the strainer, then strain the pea + elderflower syrup liquid again.
  3. The gelatin leaves should be plump and soft now; gently squeeze and shake off the excess water from the gelatine leaves and add it to the warm cordial, stirring until the completely dissolved.
  4. Add the gelatine mixture to the prosecco and stir very gently with a rubber spatula or large spoon until completely combined. Place the mixture in your dome-like gelatin mould (or a dome-like salad bowl) and leave it in the fridge for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes give it another gentle stir, then wait another 15-20 minutes. You want the jelly to be almost set but still liquid; this is so the fruit doesn't float to the top when you add it.
  5. Take out the gelatin bowl and use your fingers to push the grapes, water chestnuts, lemon rinds and mint leaves into the jelly, distributing evenly. Put it back in the fridge. And do not disturb overnight or for at least 6 hours.
  6. To remove the jelly, dip the mould in a large bowl or sink-full of hot (not boiling) water for about 5 seconds. Place a large serving plate on top of the bowl/mould, then invert. Wiggle the bowl a bit and gently lift off; the gelatine should slide out easily. Garnish with flowers and pea shoots.