The Peas to Heaven

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Spring has finally sprung and it is heavenly.  And it means that I am still on my green kick as the fresh spring produce has filled the shelves and bins at the market.  Coincidentally, one of the first-to-arrive spring veggies was my LEAST favorite as a child: peas. (Though I do find myself most enjoying things that 12-year-old me would not even consider food!) We used the little green babies in several forms in our Easter menu, and while researching recipes I stumbled across a recipe that made me do a double take.  PEA PANCAKES?!?  Yes, pea pancakes.  Who knew?!

So, while we were doing the prep work last Saturday for Easter dinner, I whipped up a small batch of the green fritters as Brandon and I immediately fell in love.  So much so that we shared the one that was left over for a pre-dinner snack on Saturday evening.  When our vegetarian friend told us she’d be in town this past weekend and wanted to get together for brunch, I instantly knew what I wanted to make.

Honestly, these pancakes are so simple that there isn’t much to say about them!  I will say that this is one recipe in which I am okay with employing the microwave to quickly melt the butter for the batter.

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Also, I came across several recipes that tell you to add the dried dill, turmeric and coriander to the dry ingredients in the batter.  Instead, I add them to the sauteed onions and allow them to almost toast for a bit while their flavors become incorporated into the onions. Their intensified flavors are, therefore, better-incorporated into the fritters.

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As far as the peas are concerned, I will probably also surprise you when I say that I prefer using frozen peas in this recipe! I do love fresh peas in a number of applications, but here opening the box of frozen peas simplifies this recipe since they do not need to be-pre-cooked.  They are likely a bit sweeter than the spring peas at the market, anyway.  The simply get dumped into the spice-onion mixture and then smashed with the back of the wooden spoon once they’ve thawed.

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I also did not use the same non-stick pan in which I sautee the onions for frying the pancakes as most of the recipes I saw suggest.  I prefer the temperature control and uniformity that I get from cast iron for this purpose.  Don’t be afraid to add more oil as you work your way through the batter since a dry pan really doesn’t do much.  I also found that 2 tablespoons of batter makes the best size pancakes, both for frying and eating.

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We topped the pancakes with smoked salmon, Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of chopped fresh dill.  Served alongside (bottomless) mimosas, these pea pancakes made a divine main course.  I then whipped some cream in which we dipped fresh whole strawberries for dessert.  Heaven indeed.

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Bon appétit.

PEA PANCAKES

Yield: about 12 pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 boz (10 oz) frozen green peas
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 3/4 teaspoons dried coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1.25 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Directions:

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and season with 3/4 tsp salt; cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until softened and starting to brown.
  2. Add the dried spices to the onions, stir to combine, and allow to “toast” for about 1 minute.
  3. Add the frozen peas and cook for 5-8 minutes and, once thawed, smash with a wooden spoon or potato masher until about 1/3 of the peas are mashed. Let cool a bit.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, remaining 1/2 tsp salt, eggs, milk and butter together to make a batter. Fold in the vegetable mixture to combine.
  5. Wipe down the sauté pan with a paper towel (or place a cast iron skillet over medium heat) and heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. For each pancake, spoon 2 tablespoons of the batter into the pan and fry, about 2-3 minutes per side, until golden browned and crisp. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and keep warm.
  6. Serve with Greek yogurt or crème fraîche, fresh dill and smoked salmon, if desired.
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