Peas, Goatcheese and Balsamico: A Starter to Impress

This little dish was the starter in our home-made 5 course Christmas dinner for two, a goat-cheese panna cotta combined with a pea purée, topped with some fresh peas, balsamico pearls and a prosciutto rose. I also added a slice of roasted bread to add some texture and bite. This starter was served half-heated, with a puree that was warm to the touch and a cold coat-cheese panna cotta.
The dish can, of course, also be slightly adapted and served as a vegetarian starter (without the Prosciutto) or enlarged and served as a light meal (peas with goat-cheese and balsamico) or even turned into more of a salad (peas, goat-cheese, green salad and a balsamico dressing). All you need is to re-combine the essential two elements of the dish, so here we go:

Ingredients (for a starter for two):
Pea Purée
1 small shallot, finely diced
1 small clove of garlic, finely diced
300g of frozen peas, if possible defrosted beforehand
2-3 tablespoons crème fraiche
10g butter
salt & pepper

Goat-Cheese Panna Cotta
80g of goat’s cream cheese
80ml of cream
1 sheet of gelatin
pinch of salt

Roasted Bread
1 small bread
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

Balsamic Pearls (in Switzerland you can get them at Globus Delicatessa)
Crema di Balsamico
4 slices of Prosciutto


Pea Purée
Heat the butter in a small pot and the shallot and the garlic. Stir for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add the peas and stir. Add 3-4 tablespoons of water, reduce heat and cover the the pot with a lid. Let it simmer for 10-15 minutes until the peas are soft. Put aside 1-2 tablespoons of peas for the decoration.
Add the crème fraiche to the peas and puree the mixture until you get a smooth puree (or one that is still a bit chunky, if you prefer that). Season to taste.

Goat-Cheese Panna Cotta
Let the gelatin soak in water for 2-3 minutes.
In a small pot, heat the cream until hot but not boiling. Add the gelatin sheet and whisk until it is completely dissolved. In a separate bowl, combine the goat’s cream cheese with the cream and gelatin mixture, season to taste (note: the goat’s cheese is already quite salty and full of flavor, so you might not need any additional seasoning at all). Pour the mixture into moulds or ramekins (I used my mini cupcake moulds for this plate). Put the moulds into the fridge and let the panna cottas set for at least 1-2 hours.

Roasted Bread
Mix the olive oil with paprika and salt. Slice the bread into thin slices and spread the olive oil mixture on the slices. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes (200 degrees) or until browned and crunchy.

Spread the pea puree across the plate, top it with some of the leftover peas.
Remove the panna cotta from its mould and place it next to the pea puree.
Take two slices of Prosciutto and role them into a rose.
Top everything with balsamico pearls, crema di balsamico and watercress.

Serve with your roasted bread slice and – enjoy!

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