I am not sure what May flowers we’ll be seeing after a mere two days of April showers this month. The lack of rain has been truly astonishing. Things are so dry our town clerk Lynn Sibley put out a robo-call to let everyone know that not only had spring burnings been prohibited but the fire department and town selectman didn’t even want us firing up our grills to cook dinner. Despite the lack of precipitation somehow the landscape has still managed to green up. Week by week the yard, trees, and garden have gotten greener and greener.
Being surrounded by all of this green has made me crave green, and one of the greenest foods I know is Green Pea Jelape. That wasn’t its original name. I’m sure it had a dignified, lovely, even appetizing sounding name when it was featured in an article in Food and Wine magazine a few decades ago. The problem is that at an Easter dinner long ago my brother Jay dug into a bowl and asked, “What is this awesome stuff–green pea jelape?” I couldn’t think of its name after hearing that. If you can come up with a better name (or know the actual title from that long ago F&W article) leave me a message below.
While I associate this appetizer with spring, it actually can be made at any time of year since it uses frozen peas. And while I can’t recall its name I do remember that in the original version the recipe called for pancetta, which at the time was a new ingredient to me. In the ensuing years I’ve substituted bacon for the pancetta and when I’m serving vegetarian friends I leave out the meat completely and flavored the dip with mint instead. The recipe calls for you to let the peas defrost, though if you forget to do this step simply give them a quick saute to quickly thaw them after you’ve cooked the bacon and shallots but before you dump them into the food processor. The finished dish will be a brighter green if you don’t need to cook them, but it will be delicious either way.
Personally I like this dish served as a dip, but some ladies at my church use it as a filling for tea sandwiches. It’s quite tasty when spread between two slices of buttered, crustless white bread (thanks Sue and Olivia). Drought or no, spring or no, vegetarian or meat eater I’m sure you’ll enjoy.
Green Pea Jelape
4 slices bacon or pancetta, cut into small pieces
1-2 largish shallots, minced
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound frozen peas, defrosted
1/2 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
Saute the bacon until it starts to brown and crisp, drain on a paper towel and set aside. Wipe out the pan, add the shallots and olive oil and saute until soft. Toss the shallots, bacon, peas and chicken stock in a small food processor and zap until everything is pulverized. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with crackers.
Mint Green Pea Jelape
Use the recipe above but omit the bacon and substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock. Before adding to the food processor add the leaves from 4-7 sprigs of fresh mint.
If crackers aren’t in your cupboards you could always serve this with some lightly toasted slivers of baguette.