Quick Pea and Cashew Dip

QuickPeaandGarlicDip

Quick Pea and Garlic Dip, photography CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

Peas are associated with comfort food, as a side with cottage pie and lashings of thick mashed potato and  Sunday roasts.  However this dip is light and perfect for the summer.  I combine it with dry roasted cashews for flavour and creaminess and it is a welcome change from chickpea dips, hummus and guacamole.

Should we only eat organic and fresh vegetables? It is very difficult to find good fresh peas all year round and frozen peas prove to be of a high nutritional value and they have usually been harvested when they are ripe at their peak. They are washed, processed and bagged within minutes of being picked and can be beneficial in many ways.    Buy a good brand from a reputable commercial outlet to be sure that they have been transported in transit vans at the right temperature to retain their freshness and flavour, especially in the summer.

‘It is sunny here with a bright blue cloudless sky and everything looks spectacular in June, perfect weather before the intense heat.’

For the pea and cashew dip, you will need:

450g frozen peas
1 large clove garlic
30g grated gbejna cheese or parmesan or use vegan cheese
a pinch of dried marjoram
4 leaves fresh marjoram
4 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons cashew nuts [I use the more economical cashew pieces that come pre-packed]
1/8 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
salt and freshly ground pepper

To finish off: a few leaves of fresh marjoram and olive oil

Boil ample water in a pot and as soon as it starts to boil add the frozen peas and garlic clove and remove from heat. Cover the pan with a lid and leave for 2 minutes and not more to retain the vibrant colour and consistency. Drain the water and place the peas in a food processor or liquidizer. Dry roast the cashew pieces by placing them in a large pan over high heat. Shake the pan and do not allow them to brown but the oils of the nuts start to release and the roasted taste combined with the peas is delicious. Add the rest of the ingredients and puree. You may wish to have a very smooth dip or leave it with some consistency and texture by pulsing the processor and stopping once the cashews have broken down completely. Taste and season. Tip into a bowl and top with some olive oil and fresh marjoram leaves. Serve warm or place in the refrigerator for an hour.

*This recipe is *gluten free * diabetic-friendly  *vegetarian*  
*For a lactose free or vegan dip, omit the cheese or simply use a vegan cheese*

 

Serve with warm pita bread or nut and seed bread. It is great for dipping crudities and also to serve with any finger food. I also like this dip as an accompaniment to grilled meats or fish.

Lea’s Good Food Everyday airs on Smash TV every day and you can also follow the facebook page  

Trade Enquiries:

Frozen Peas and frozen vegetables by Green Isle at Rimus Trading Agency 

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables from Big Fresh Mosta, Oscar’s Fruit and Vegetables Paola and Barbuto [Organic]

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Spilt Pea and zucchini soup

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The soup today is mum’s recipe. It is made with zucchini and dried green split peas which I always have in my store cupboard. Split peas are very high in protein and low in fat and they give the soup a distinct earthy flavor. All you need to do is soak the split peas overnight and if you wish to speed up the time they take to soften add 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to 125g of dried split peas during the boiling process, not before when you are soaking them as this destroys the vitamin content. When you boil the split peas use a large pot with plenty of water on medium heat to prevent sticking. It may sound like a lot of trouble but it is worth it and if you are at home anyway, they can boil away while you do something else.

Mum uses off-the-bone gammon in hers.

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You will need:

125g dried split peas, soaked, boiled, softened and rinsed
1 kg zucchini, chopped up
1 bay leaves
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Drizzle of olive oil
Fresh thyme
Squeeze of lemon
100g off the bone ham or if you are vegetarian, substitute with a vegetable stock cube
Water, enough to completely immerse everything plus 3 cups

In a large pot drizzle some olive oil and sweat the onions, add the garlic, stirring occasionally.

Add the zucchini, potato, bay leaf, thyme and softened split peas, salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring occasionally.

Add the stock or water, the chopped up gammon (this is optional), squeeze of a lemon and bring to boil. Simmer and cook on low heat for an hour. Do not forget to keep stirring occasionally.

Remove the bay leaf.

Transfer the soup to a food processor. I use a hand blender and puree until smooth, processing in batches until you have a smooth purée. If it is too thick, add more water. If you would like a richer texture add milk or single cream. We tend to avoid this especially during the week !

To serve, reheat the soup but do not boil.

Serve the soup into individual bowls and if you like garnish with crispy bacon ..

This soup freezes well.

So sweet of my daughter….. Barefoot Contessa’s Spanish Pea Soup with Crispy Ham

For a vegetarian option, omit the crispy ham.20130910-083950.jpg

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In the middle of a busy day I dropped in to have a quick coffee with my daughter in between appointments. And she surprised me with a lovely light lunch. We both love Ina Garten’s food www.barefootcontessa.com/ and she made me Spanish Pea Soup with Crispy Ham which she slightly changed from The Barefoot Contessa Book Foolproof http://www.barefootcontessa.com/cookbooks_details.aspx?CookbookID=33. She presented it beautifully, identical to Ina’s picture. She is already an even better cook than I am !

The soup makes a light and healthy lunch and serves 2.

You will need:

One small packet frozen peas
2 shallots
1 clove garlic
1 vegetable stock cube in 350 ml water
Some olive oil
Maldon Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 slices Jamon Serrano

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil and cook the shallots until tender. Add the frozen peas and stock.
Season and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Purée with a hand held blender leaving it slightly course. Heat again and adjust seasoning.

Place the Jamon Serrano slices on a flat plate and microwave until crispy. Use to garnish and drizzle a few drops of olive oil before serving.

Believe me, it’s delicious !

And this is a photo of Ina’s soup from her book Foolproof.

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A clear summer day, and how lucky we are !

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