There are few foods that can withstand the abuse of the freezer and emerge from the other end essentially undamaged. If there's one thing that Clarence Birdseye should be thanked for, it's frozen peas.
The problem with peas is that the moment they're picked from the pod, their natural sugars start combining and converting into starches. Peas eaten one day out of the pod taste significantly less sweet and more starchy than fresh-picked peas. What does this mean for you? It means that unless you've got a pea plant growing in your backyard, a good, sweet, fresh pea is nearly impossible to come by.
Frozen peas, on the other hand, are rapidly chilled right after shucking, locking their sugars in place. Large vegetables can freeze slowly, encouraging the formation of cell-damaging ice crystals, and ruining their crisp texture. Because of their diminutive size, peas don't suffer from this problem.
In Simple Italian Snacks, Jason Denton and Kathryn Kellinger offer a simple recipe for Sweet Pea Bruschetta, in which frozen peas are pureed with olive oil before being spread on toast. Tasting the spread instantly brought to mind another puree of pulses and olive oil: hummus.
Green Pea Hummus
- 1 pound frozen baby sweet peas, thawed
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, grated on microplane grater or pressed through garlic press
- 2 tablespoon juice from one lemon
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Set aside 1/4 cup peas for garnish. Place remaining peas, olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice in bowl of food processor and process until smooth puree is formed, scraping down sides as necessary, about 30 seconds total.
Transfer hummus to serving bowl, sprinkle with remaining whole peas, drizzle with additional extra-virgin olive oil, and serve with crostini or pita bread.
For Green Pea Hummus with Mint and Feta: Follow directions for Green Pea Hummus adding 1/2 cup of chopped fresh mint leaves and 2 ounces crumbled feta cheese along with other ingredients to food processor in step 1. Serve garnished with additional chopped mint and crumbled feta.
For Green Pea Hummus with Black Pepper and Pecorino Romano: Follow directions for Green Pea Hummus adding 1 ounce of grated Pecorino Romano and extra 1 teaspoon coarsely cracked black pepper along with other ingredients to food processor in step 1. Grate additional cheese and crack additional pepper over bowl before serving.