Spring has finally arrived here in Copenhagen and with the trees about to burst with leaves, and grass totally gleaming, I am feelin’ the need for fresh. Does that happen to any of you as soon as the season turns? It is one of the most dramatic things I notice in myself anyway – my bod on the loudspeaker to my brain: EAT GREEN STUFF.
My lettuce intake is through the roof, as I am craving leafy things like nobody’s business. Asparagus is a regular on the menu since it’s really only at its peak for the next few weeks. And peas. Lots and lots of sweet green peas winding up in all the little corners of my plate; tucked in the curl of a baby spinach leaf, a sparkling green pop in a quinoa salad.
I grew up absolutely detesting peas, as they were always served to me completely mushy and nearly gray from over-boiling. Why do people cook them that way?! When I finally got over my serious childhood trauma, I had another go at them, prepared them properly, and fell in love. Green peas are such a delight in their sweet, bright taste, and have a spring-crisp freshness that is welcomed by a winter-weary palette.
I think peas are a pretty underestimated vegetable, considering they are veritable storehouses of essential vitamins and minerals. That’s right. A measly ½-cup serving provides more than 20 percent of the RDA for vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese! True! Peas are a good source of iron, folate, vitamin B1, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, and copper. You’ll also be getting a serious dose of soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol and control blood sugar.
Peas offer up some heart-healthy vegetarian protein, providing 9 grams per cup. They are not a complete protein however, so make sure to combine them with a whole grain to ensure you are getting the complete essential amino acid profile. Try green peas in a brown rice or quinoa salad, or hey – this Simple Mint Pea Dip on rye toasts! Genius.
Here’s a random, yet important fact for women trying to get pregnant: green peas contain an anti-fertility compound, m-xylohydroquinone, so it may be wise to avoid them.
Simple Mint Pea Dip is totally tasty and bursting spring-time freshness. The pea, mint and lemon is just such a reliable combo (which you may have noticed by now, as I’ve posted two recipes already with practically the same ingredients…what can I say? I’m consistent). The tahini is optional, but lends a very lovely creaminess to the spread, which otherwise may not be substantial enough for the hummus fans out there. If you like your dips on the lighter side, leave it out.
This dip is also a chinch to make and is beautifully versatile. Serve it simply like I have on toasted rye bread, or make a complete sandwich by adding avocado, sprouts, and spring lettuce – green!
This also makes a great dip for raw veggies. Try a spring mix of asparagus, carrots, and radishes.
Simple Mint Pea Dip
3 cups fresh or frozen green peas
zest of 1 un-waxed, organic lemon
3 Tbsp. lemon juice (approx. ½ lemon)
1 large clove garlic
¼ cup packed mint leaves
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1-2 Tbsp. raw tahini (optional, but makes the dip creamy)
¼ tsp. sea salt
1. If using frozen peas, leave out to thaw completely, or cook them in step 2. If using raw peas, skip over to step 3.
2. To blanche the peas (this enhances their sweetness), bring a pot of water to the boil, add peas and cook for 2-3 minutes (no more!). Plunge them into an ice bath or very cold water to halt the cooking process. Set aside.
3. Put whole clove of garlic in a food processor and pulse to mince. Add the remaining ingredients and blend on high to puree.
4. Store in an airtight container for 3-4 days, but try to consume as quickly as possible.
Well, the travel bug came back so I am off to Budapest tomorrow morning! So excited. I’ve heard pretty discouraging things about the Hungarian veggie food prospects, but I’ve got my little pack of dried goods with me to cook up if we reach emergency status! I hope to discover something rad to report back, so stayed tuned. So long.