One of my fondest childhood memories involves picking pea pods straight off the bush at my grandparents’ farm on the outskirts of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. I just loved popping open the pods and munching on the sweet green nuggets inside. They were so cool, crunchy and refreshing on those hot prairie days.
Having never really made it into the hot food trend category, peas have had a somewhat muted existence in the culinary world. You don’t see them as the main focus of a dish too often, and these little sweeties tend to get banished to the supporting cast without much fanfare or recognition. But there they sit… usually in a bag in your freezer, ready to rise to any challenge you choose to throw their way.
I think it’s time we finally paid homage to the beauty of the pea and all the delicious dishes that highlight their sweet nature, and there are many reasons to do so. They’re pretty easy to prepare and can be steamed, boiled, mashed or pureed. Plus, they’re full of essential nutrients including protein, dietary fiber, antioxidants and a hefty amount of vitamin C (66% of your daily recommended amount in a 100-gram serving). Fun fact: The high quality protein found in peas has made them a key ingredient in many protein powders and supplements.
Here are a few recipes that let these little green guys finally shine in all their glory:
Peas can easily sub in for the nuts in your pesto, turning it into a healthier option with lower calories and fat. Just throw a package of thawed peas into your food processor and mash them up with the rest of your ingredients. For a fun twist: leave out the basil and try mint instead for a wonderful flavor pairing. I like to make a big batch of pesto on Sunday and use it throughout the week. Some ideas: spread it on crostini and top with chopped tomatoes, stuff it inside omelets or toss it with some roasted sweet potatoes. Yum!
Make pea hummus by simply swapping your chickpeas for the non-chick variety and proceeding as usual with your favorite classic hummus recipe or try adding different seasonings to your taste. If you’re using frozen peas, be sure to cook them first. Pea hummus can be eaten just like any other hummus–with fresh cut veggies, warm, toasty pita triangles, or my personal favorite: as a dip for smoked tofu.
If there’s an avocado shortage or you’re just in the market for a lower calorie Mexican dip option, look no further than that bag of peas in your freezer! Just cook them, mash them up and use them in place of avocados in your favorite guacamole recipe. Serve with tortilla chips and salsa and get to dipping!
Pureed peas make an excellent base for light, fluffy and savory pancakes, which you can top with herbed yogurt, a few slices of smoked salmon and a sprinkle of fresh herbs. Sounds like the perfect appetizer to me! Or even a delicious breakfast… This one is a little more complicated, so here’s a recipe to try: Mini Pea Pancakes with Herbed Yogurt.
Peas are found in many vegetarian curry recipes, usually alongside potatoes. They’re easy to add to any curry or stew-like dish – just pour them into the pot straight out of the freezer package during the last few minutes of cooking and when they’re heated through, you can dig in! Try this recipe: Sweet Potato and Pea Curry.
This list wouldn’t be complete without bringing some sweet snap peas into the mix. Peas of all kinds make great additions to salads, and that’s especially the case with the snap pea. I like to chop them up, pods and all, and toss them into a salad topped with a nice ginger and sesame dressing. I also stumbled across this tasty looking recipe that hints at the classic pea curry combo but with a light twist that’s perfect for warmer weather: Spring Pea Salad with Creamy Curry Dressing
What’s your favorite way to use that bag of peas in your freezer? Share in the comments!
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