Besides its famous strawberries, the village of Mġarr offers alluring natural beauty, history and heritage, as well as a wide variety of fresh produce. A visit to this year’s Strawberry Festival, now in its tenth year, is a must today.

Although the village is synonymous with strawberries, farmers cultivate a variety of fruit and vegetables

Mġarr is a showcase for Maltese farmers and the local agricultural community. Not only is it a celebration of the queen of fruits, but also an appreciation for the long laborious days contributed by our farmers. The festival also reminds me of another of our glorious summers yet to come.

Although the village is synonymous with strawberries, farmers cultivate a variety of fruit and vegetables and, today, I share with you some recipes using the produce from this unique village.

Fresh Pea and Broad Bean Soup

1 tbsp olive oil and extra for drizzling
1 onion, roughly chopped and sautéed in the olive oil
Fresh mint leaves
Fresh flat leaf parsley
Some other fresh herbs to taste (I used a sprig of fresh basil too)
1 bay leaf
500ml water, with one all-natural vegetable stock cube
300g fresh broad beans, peeled
200g fresh peas, peeled
50g oats
125ml yoghurt
Almond milk
1 lime, juice and zest
1 poached egg per person poached in water and 1 tbsp of apple organic vinegar
Salt and pepper

The simplicity of this dish, made using peas and broad beans laced with mint leaves, makes a wonderful meal. Fresh ingredients make a big difference. For the creamy consistency I use oats, not too much, just enough that when cooked and puréed, the result in a creamy texture without the richness.

Place the water in a large pot with the stock cube and bring to boil. Add the sautéed onion (do not allow it to brown when you are cooking it in the olive oil, cooked slowly on low heat to soften it up and bring out the sweetness).

Cook for 5 minutes on a low boil, then add the oats. Lower the temperature. Stir constantly and cook for 10 minutes. Add half the broad beans, half the peas and a quarter of the fresh mint leaves, parsley and other fresh herbs if you are using.

Cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and white pepper, add the dried mint and cook for another 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to slightly cool down. Add the remaining herbs keeping some back to garnish and blend to a smooth purée using a hand blender. Add half of the remaining broad beans and peas and reheat.

Place a poached egg in each soup bowl. Pour over the hot soup and scatter some more broad beans and peas on top. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.

La Frettedda

50 ml olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
200g peeled broad beans
200g fresh peas
200g asparagus
1 fennel bulb, sliced
100 ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp finely chopped mint
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to season
Pecorino cheese, grated to serve

I love this speciality from Palermo, that uses fresh seasonal vegetables ever-so-lightly braised to retain a bit of a crunch.

Heat most of the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the sliced onion and fry gently on very low heat until soft. Add the fennel and stock. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the chopped asparagus. Cook for another 5 minutes and finally add the peas and broad beans. Cook for 5 minutes more, turn off the heat and cover for 5 minutes. Grate fresh pecorino cheese and drizzle with olive oil before serving with pasta or panelle (chick pea fritters) as they do in Sicily.

Healthier Strawberry Tart

For the pastry:
150g spelt flour, plus extra for dusting
100g plain flour
100g oats
50g coconut
Pinch of salt
50ml olive oil
1 vanilla stick
1 egg

For the filling:
100g yogurt
300g sheep’s milk ricotta
1 tbsp organic maple syrup
1 tbsp citrus zest of your choice
1 vanilla stick

To finish off:
1 large punnet strawberries, cut into half
1 tbsp organic maple syrup

To make the pastry, place all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and use a hand blender to mix them together. Add the egg and bring together with your hands. If necessary, add a few drops of cold water to make the pastry more pliable. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 160°C.

For this recipe I use a 23 cm tart dish prepared with some baking spray. Roll out the pastry and place it on the prepared tart dish. Gently tap the pastry all over with your fingertips and use a rolling pin to trip all the excess pastry.

Pierce the pastry all over with a fork and bake blind by first placing in the freezer for half an hour and then straight into the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

For the filling, whisk all the ingredients together. Just before serving spoon over the ricotta filling into the crust and smooth with a spatula. Arrange the strawberries on top of the filling. Brush the strawberries with warm maple syrup. Serve.

Ravioli with Artichoke Pesto

500g ravioli
Ready-made sheeps’ milk
200g hearts of artichokes, steamed until softened
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or cashews
1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese
50 ml olive oil
Salt and pepper to season

This pesto freezes well for up to a month and you can also refrigerate it for five days. It retains its colour well and the flavours intensify.

Cook the ravioli in a large pot of boiling water. They are cooked as soon as they float to the top. Drain them and keep them aside.

Use a food processor to pulse together all the ingredients for the pesto, until the consistency is very smooth. If necessary add water. Add the pesto to the ravioli and serve immediately.

You can watch Lea cook on TVM2 and follow her blog on More can be found on

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