I’m not sure the return of fresh peas can match the excitement of the return of summer concerts, especially Chicago’s beloved Lollapalooza, but it is something to be celebrated. Pea shoots, pea tendrils and beautiful sweet tender fresh peas are the first signs of summer.
It is the definitive time when we switch our palettes to the bright, fresh and crisp farm fresh fruits and vegetables of the season. It’s the time we veer away from the stovetop intensive braising and the house-warming baked goods that provide comfort during the cooler months. It's time to grill outside, make quick and simple dishes that require little cooking and highlight the bounty of the season. Fresh peas are always a welcome sight and a clear indication summer has arrived. Sweet pea hummus hits on all counts.
I love steamed peas, pea salad, peas sautéed with butter, shallots and tarragon, but one of my favorite summer treats is sweet pea hummus. It is quick to make and provides a new and unique way to highlight peas during their very short season.
Sweet Pea Hummus
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Yield: Approximately 2 cups
Prep time: 10-25 minutes (10 minutes if you can find shucked fresh peas, 25 if you have to shuck them yourself)
2 cups, fresh or frozen peas (If using unshelled peas, you will need about 2 pounds.)
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon salt
Sprinkle of cayenne pepper or paprika
1 Tablespoon mint, chiffonade
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Step 1: Steam Peas
If you purchase unshelled peas, this recipe will take a little longer. Your first step would be to remove the peas from the pod. Simply pull the peapod apart at the seam and swipe your finger down the center to remove the peas. Reserve the peas for the hummus but the pods don’t have much use, so I compost them. The pods have a lovely flavor, I used to chew on them when I was a kid and suck the sweet juice out of them, but they are very fibrous and not great for eating. If anyone has come up with a good use for them, please let me know in the comments below.
Either place your peas in a steamer basket and steam for 2 minutes or blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes.
Place the steamed or blanched peas in a bowl with cold water and ice to stop the peas from cooking any further.
Once the peas are chilled in the ice bath, drain them.
I like to lightly dry them on a towel to get the extra water off the peas. Sweet pea hummus is looser than regular hummus so you need to be careful to remove excess water off the peas.
Step 2: Prepare Hummus
Place 2 peeled garlic cloves in a food processer and pulse until chopped finely. Always chop your garlic by itself when using a food processor, otherwise the garlic won't chop properly.
Once the garlic is chopped, add the steamed peas, lemon zest, lemon juice, 3 Tablespoons of the olive oil, tahini, 1 teaspoon salt and process until mostly smooth.
Step 3: Garnish and Serve
Place hummus in a bowl and drizzle with remaining olive oil, sprinkle of cayenne pepper (note: uncooked cayenne pepper isn’t extremely hot), a sprinkle of fresh mint and pita chips.
I hope you enjoy this fresh and simple recipe as a light snack or appetizer or as a quick and healthy summer lunch. If you are looking for more ideas on what to do with the bounty of summer produce, meet me at the Green City Market on Saturday, July 24 from 9am-11am. I’ll be at the Seedlings booth that day helping guests navigate what to do with the fresh produce offered there.
We'll show you how to work with peas in our Double Date: Hands-On Paella Party on Saturday, July 31 at 6:30pm at Lincoln Square.
You can also join us for a virtual class featuring yet another seasonal take on hummus. The Chopping Block's Executive Chef Lisa Counts' entry in the Beyond Hunger Healthy Chef Challenge is Blueberry BBQ Glazed Chicken with Power Salad and Creamy Bright Hummus. Today is the last day to vote for her to win the professional category. It takes just a second to click her entry, so will you please help us out? Vote now before 8pm CST then sign up for the virtual cooking class on Wednesday, July 14 at 7pm CST to learn how to make this healthy and seasonal dish on your own.