Midsummer: Fresh Pea Spread
When it comes to freshness, there's nothing like a freshly picked garden pea. But most of us aren't growing them ourselves, and "fresh" peas in grocery stores are generally old enough that the sugars that make peas so delicious are converted to tasteless starch. Canned peas are generally overcooked and mushy. Fine for eating alongside mashed potatoes and meatloaf, but not so fresh-tasting. What's the solution? Frozen peas.
Ironic, I know, but frozen peas are often so much better than "fresh" unless you've picked them yourself or get them the same day. To me, peas signal not only spring but also early summer - when mornings and evenings are still cool, even when midday is hot. In the Northeastern U.S., peas were historically on the menu as late as July 4th! They're popular in Scandinavia, too.
I wanted some nice, bright color for my Scandinavian Midsummer Porch Party, and this fresh pea spread hit the spot. I've made Spring Pea Hummus before - and that's equally delicious. But I wanted something vegan this time.
Fresh Pea Spread Recipe
This recipe definitely needs a food chopper or processor! You could use a food mill in a pinch, but you'll need to finely mince the onion, first.
1 bag frozen organic peas
1/4 sweet onion (I used Vidalia)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Cook the peas in a little water on the stove or in the microwave until no longer frozen and just barely cooked. They'll be soft after thawing anyway. Add the peas and onions to the food chopper and pulse until well-mixed. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice and a tablespoon or two of olive oil and pulse again until as smooth as possible. If you're using a food mill, mince the onion as fine as you can before sending through the food mill with the peas, then mix in the lemon juice and olive oil by hand. Sample and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve on rye crisps or other crackers, or use as a sandwich spread.
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Sarah Wassberg Johnson has an MA in Public History from the University at Albany and studies early 20th century food history.
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