And those of us who love the legume have good reason. The Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition points out here that a diet high in legumes, indeed, is “the most protective dietary predictor of survival amongst the elderly, regardless of their ethnicity.”
This same study goes on to report that:
“the significance of legumes persisted even after controlling for age at enrolment (in 5-year intervals), gender, and smoking. Legumes have been associated with long-lived food cultures such as the Japanese (soy, tofu, natto, miso), the Swedes (brown beans, peas), and the Mediterranean people (lentils, chickpeas, white beans).”
Given all this and the fact that my (cough) birthday is around the corner, I think the time is right to declare my adoration for the humble frozen pea.
What’s not to love about this little green baby? It’s virtually instant food, packed with nutritional goodness (unlike soggy, sodden canned ones – ugh), and so versatile. Chuck half a cupful into soups and curries, mash them up with a little with olive oil and prawns in linguine, puree with roasted garlic to serve under pan-fried fish, mix steamed peas with chopped bacon or pancetta, mash peas with some pecorino and olive oil (and broad beans!) and pepper to serve on toast.
I know you legume-lovers must have your own ideas of pea perfection, so do share … Meanwhile, here is a very simple minted pea and lettuce soup I made on the weekend. The flavour is sweet and fresh, the texture velvety, the colour is gorgeous and (perhaps because the pea, I believe, is a complex carbohydrate?) this soup is surprisingly filling.
Minted pea soup
- olive oil
- 1 leek, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 baby cos lettuce, thoroughly washed & roughly chopped
- 400-500g frozen peas
- pinch sugar
- 1½ cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
- ½ bunch mint
- salt & pepper
- dash cream, to serve
- Sauté leek & garlic till soft.
- Add shredded lettuce & peas to the pan with sugar and a little of the stock.
- When lettuce and peas are soft, remove to a food processor and puree till smooth, adding mint and as much stock as needed for a smooth mixture.
- Return mixture to pan and gradually add the remainder of the stock until the soup is the thickness you like (as water if still too thick) and season to taste.
- To serve, add a spoonful of cream to the base of each bowl, then add the soup and swirl cream through.