Sweet Pea, Ricotta & Thyme Cigarillos

This simple starter in Jamie Pea's Dinner Party episode 1 is necessity disguised as lavish abundance; it's an elegant addition to the dinner party spread, and great for people to nibble on while you get the other food cooking, but I'd also made it to use up the yummy pea pulp left over from making pea soup -- waste not, want not.

These are easy to make but a little fiddly so you might want to make these in advance. The process is one of those soothingly repetitive, crafty activities that are perfect for a zen hour in the kitchen, tuning out to an NPR radio program while your fingers get busy lifting, folding, piping and rolling these babies into being. They can be frozen on the tray and baked immediately the next day.

Sweet Pea, Ricotta and Thyme Cigarillos

(makes 24 pieces)

  • 250g leftover pea pulp from the pea soup
  • 250g ricotta cheese
  • 120g butter, melted
  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked (if you can find it, use the variety of thyme that has very soft leaves and soft green stems – they work better here than the dry thyme which has small firm leaves and brown hard stems)
  • 4 tsp honey
  • 12 pieces filo pastry sheets (purchase one box of chilled filo pastry sheets)
  1. Mix the ricotta and pea pulp in a bowl, adding enough sea salt and pepper to your liking; you can also add lemon zest if you wish. Scoop into a ziplock bag or pastry bag, seal it closed and set aside on a plate.

  2. Take out three sheets of filo pastry from the box; put the rest back into the box to keep moist. Layer the three filo sheets on top of each other then cut vertically and horizontally in half to create 12 smaller rectangles. Measuring approximately 15cm x 20cm. Place these rectangles on top of each other then keep them covered in a dry kitchen towel (filo sheets get dry and brittle easily so they need to be protected form the outside air).

  3. Lay one piece of filo flat on your kitchen top, so that it’s long from left to right with a shorter height. Use a pastry brush or clean paintbrush to add a layer of melted butter. Sprinkle thyme leaves in a vertical line, 1cm away from the right-side short edge of each rectangle, then place a new rectangle of filo pastry on top of the bottom layer, pressing down firmly to smooth the two sheets together – especially where the thyme leaves are enclosed.

  4. Brush the filo with another layer of butter, then fold 1cm of the right-side edge in to the left to seal in the thyme leaves at the edge, pressing down firmly.

  5. Use scissors to cut off one corner of the ziplock bag, then use it as a piping bag to squeeze out a thick line of ricotta-pea mix along the left-side edge of the filo; make sure you leave 2cm of space between the top and bottom edge of the pastry and the pea puree so the mixture doesn’t leak out later when it’s baking.

  6. Drizzle a bit of honey on top of the ricotta-pea lines. Then simply roll up the pastry from left to right, starting at the pea mixture side. Place each rolled-up cigarillo on a baking tray lined with aluminum foil that’s been rubbed with olive oil, or non-stick baking paper. Place each cigarillo thyme-side-up and brush with butter before moving on to the next cigarillo.

  7. When all 24 cigarillos are rolled up, pre-heat your oven to 200*C. When the temperature is right, put the oven tray(s) into the oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or just until golden brown and crisp. Serve immediately or transfer to a wire rack to cool and prevent the pastry from getting soggy.