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Minted Pea Hummus recipe from The Natural Vitality Chef

Whilst the word hummus means chickpeas in Arabic and therefore my bright green, aromatic purée cannot really be called a hummus, it is after all made with peas of some sort and the texture is similar, faintly starchy and grainy, although lighter and fresher, lacking the robustness of the traditional chickpea and tahini mixture.

It is difficult to give exact quantities and weights for peas in their pods as some pods will invariably be full to bursting and others contain nothing more than two or three peas the size of a peppercorn, so it is better to buy plenty. You will need about 500 g of podded peas, and while fresh peas are one of summer’s joys, they do require a certain amount of effort, so if you are short of time, frozen petits pois work extremely well.

Do not be tempted to make the hummus too far in advance, as the lemon juice will turn the bright green colour to khaki over time – two or three hours is really the maximum.

MINTED PEA HUMMUS

Serves 4 as a snack or hors d’oeuvre

1 kg/2 1/4 lb fresh peas, podded or 500 g/18 oz frozen petits pois

100 ml/3 1/2 fl oz + 30 ml/2 tbsp olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, peeled

20 g/3/4 oz fresh mint, leaves only

2 lemons, juiced

50 g/2 oz red onions, peeled and finely chopped

1 large mild red chilli, seeded and thinly sliced

15 pitted black olives, halved

2.5 ml/1/2 tsp sweet paprika

5 ml/1 tsp ground cumin or to taste

Lemon wedges (optional)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Wholemeal pita bread, home-made tortilla chips, crudités, oatcakes, etc, to serve

Cook the fresh peas in plenty of salted, boiling water until tender; the time will depend on the age of the peas but test after 5 minutes. If you are using frozen peas, cook them for 3 minutes.

Drain and refresh under cold running water. Drain again and turn out on to a clean dry dishcloth to get rid of any excess water.

Transfer to a food processor, add the 100 ml of olive oil, garlic, three quarters of the mint, 2 tbsp of lemon juice and some seasoning, and process until smooth.

Taste and sharpen with additional lemon juice if the flavour is not bright enough.

Scrape the hummus into a wide, shallow bowl.

Chop the remaining mint coarsely.

Drizzle the hummus with the 2 tbsp of olive oil, sprinkle with red onions, chilli, olives and mint, and finally dust with paprika and cumin.

Garnish with lemon wedges and serve with wholemeal pita bread, home-made tortilla chips, crudités, oatcakes or whatever you fancy.

And how about this recipe's nutritional talents? Peas are high in fibre and protein, rich in vitamins and minerals such as Vitamins K/C/E/Bs, zinc, magnesium, potassium and iron as well as anti-oxidants like carotenoids, flavonoids and polyphenols. What about garlic? Garlic is rich in allicin, a sulphur compound essential to the detoxification of heavy metals in the body; it can also boost the immune system, may help to reduce blood pressure and LDL/"bad" cholesterol, and is rich in antioxidants, Vitamins B6 and C as well as the minerals manganese and selenium. Olive oil? Anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and full of monounsaturated fat. And mint? Calming and soothing for the digestive system, good for nausea, a natural anti-microbial and an excellent breath freshener, particularly after eating all that garlic!

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