It's official: summer is here, and after what has been a pretty unusual spring, I'm ready for some light and freshness in my life! I feel like I missed my usual spring pleasures in the kitchen because of the Covid crisis. Supplies were limited in the beginning and I still had the urge for comfort food and indulgent desserts. But as we head into summer (and as I hope to be able to get to a beach at some point!), it is definitely time to lighten up, and that includes in the kitchen, as well.
I decided to kick off the summer by re-discovering Elli & Manos' Peas & Mint veggie spread, a truly small-batch, limited-edition treat. It's one of our more unusual flavor combinations and some might think the least obviously Greek. It's true that Elli was inspired by her childhood in England, where mashed peas are a classic kid's meal. But peas are found in many Greek gardens and her idea to blend them with mint and a decidedly Greek twist of lemon convinced me. (You can read more about Elli in one of my early blog posts - she really is one of my inspirations in this Zelos journey!)
The mint and lemon make this spread a great condiment for a fresh & light fish dinner. I first made this dish for a Thanksgiving detox a couple of years ago, and it's a good one for anyone looking to lose those "quarantine 15" (especially when you pan-bake the fish or fry in olive oil). Our friend Sylvia blends Peas & Mint with crumbled feta for a delicious party appetizer. But I was probably most surprised when another zealous friend, Anu in Honolulu, told me she enjoys it for breakfast! Anu has always raved about Peas & Mint, and recently sent me a few pictures for inspiration, and I have to say, they are just what I need to welcome the summer!
Anu's snacks and lunch ideas are tasty, too, as this little jar makes a killer sandwich spread. "This is my cornmeal Kaiser roll, locally-grown radish, eggs, and peas & mint!! Great mid-morning snack!". I'd have to agree - gluten-free, protein-rich, good fiber...what more do you want from a healthy snack to tide you over until a late lunch or early dinner?
My favorite way to use Elli's fresh dip, though, is in my risotto, and it was one of the first recipes I shared on my Zealous Stories blog. I just took my classic risotto recipe but dropped the saffron and stirred in a jar of the Peas & Mint spread. You can go to my original Spring Risotto blog post for the complete recipe. If you'd like to share your creative ways of enjoying this fresh dip, send us your pictures and ideas...until then, happy Summer Solstice!
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