When you think about snacking, you immediately think about peanuts and crunchy peas. These two are common staples of snack time in the Philippines. Whether your peanuts are fried, boiled or steamed, they always hit a soft spot in our hearts and stomachs!
While peas and peanuts are mundane, not everyone is familiar with the many kinds and uses of these wonderful legumes. Peas alone have different variants and are often used in different kinds of dishes. They also offer great benefits to your health. Peanuts, on the other hand, are also very nutritious and versatile. You can even use peanuts in other ways that don’t involve eating them and we will discuss all these things in this blog.
Peas are small, round legume varieties that are typically classified as fresh, field or pod peas. Typically, fresh peas are grown in a pod and is generally harvested in early summer. On the other hand, field peas are grown to be dried and then split or used whole to be used in soups or purées. Some field peas include black eyed peas and chickpeas as well. Some variants like the snap and snow peas can be eaten along with the pod.
These starchy round green peas are not just for side dishes – although they are most commonly used as so here in the Philippines. But actually, if you expand your horizon, you would know that green and yellow peas are tasty and easy to use plus they are very good for you as well. Each pea is packed with essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs to combat serious ailments such as heart failures, diabetes and even cancer and Alzheimer’s. They are also very affordable and can be prepared in many different ways.
Peas are available year round in the country and can be bought frozen, fresh, canned or bottled. They serve different purposes and each kind has a different texture and distinct taste to it. Peas are not only used for human consumption but are also used as feeds for livestock. In Europe, peas are more commonly used as animal feeds.
In the kitchen, you can make all sorts of dishes using the green and yellow peas. You can turn green peas into delicious pesto to be served as appetizer or even a nice buttered peas and lettuce side dish for your steak. Mutter Paneer is a nice Indian dish that combines peas with cheese. You can also add them to a bacon and herb pasta for that hint of sweetness and to a cold parsley salad for an interesting texture and burst of flavor. The possibilities are actually endless. You can even spruce up a boring pot of mashed potatoes with some green peas and make it a super delicious and healthy starch for your roast chicken dinner. Peas, both yellow and green are also delicious as soups.
The first cultivation of peas were known to be somewhere in the Middle East some 4,000 years ago but today, the US and Canada remain to be the largest producers of peas along with France, China and Russia.
Also known as groundnuts, peanuts are a very important crop that should not be taken for granted. It is most commonly grown in the tropics and subtropics and is considered a grain and a legume. Peanuts have significant amounts of oil that is an independent crop as well.
Peanuts are often associated with one man being George Washington Carver, an 18th century farming specialist. He wrote a manual with around 300 different uses for peanuts. Carver is responsible for discoveries such as salted peanuts and peanut oil. Apart from the usual ways we eat peanuts, Carver also suggested other uses such as peanut soap, biodiesel fuel and laxative, all thanks to the high oil content found in the nut. By separating the peanut oil from resins, and other components, Carver was able to discover plenty of uses such as the creation of peanut butters, pancake flours and even mayonnaise.
One of the most popular by-product of the peanut is its oil. It has a distinct nutty taste much like in sesame oil which is why it is so commonly used in Asian dishes. Peanut oil is also known to have the highest smoke point compared to other oils so it is best for frying and deep frying without worrying about carcinogens forming and entering your food.
Apart from its delicious taste and availability, peanuts have amazing health benefits to offer as well. They have high levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that keep your heart healthy and happy. Due to its oleic acid content, it helps lower your bad cholesterol which helps prevent coronary artery disease and common strokes. Amazingly, munching on peanuts can also help prevent the risk of diabetes by 21% due to the presence of manganese. Manganese is a mineral that plays an important role in your metabolism and blood sugar regulation.
Peanuts are widely popular in tropical and subtropical regions which is why it is so highly available locally. China accounts for almost forty percent of world production of peanuts and Africa and India come in next in line.
In conclusion, peas and peanuts are perhaps two of the most versatile ingredients that could be found in nature. Not only are they good for munching as snacks but they can also be easily incorporated in other dishes. They both provide amazing health benefits for the body and are easily accessible for us Pinoys to enjoy.
Homemade Peanut Butter
Yield: 1 1/2 cups
2 cups raw, shelled peanuts
¼ tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 tbsp peanut oil
2 tbsp honey or other sweetener (optional, for sweeter peanut butter)
1. Roast the peanuts (optional): Heat the oven to 350°F and toast the peanuts on a baking sheet until lightly golden and glossy with oil, about 10 minutes.
- Pulse the peanuts until ground: Transfer the peanuts to a food processor or blender. If you toasted your nuts, do this while the nuts are still warm. Pulse a few times just until chopped.
- Process for 1 minute: Run the food processor or blender continuously for 1 minute. Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Process for 1 minute: Run the food processor or blender continuously for another minute, then stop and scrape down the sides. At this point, the butter will be glossy and soft, like very thick peanut butter.
- Add the salt, oil, sweetener: Sprinkle the salt, oil and sweetener.
- Process for 1 to 2 additional minutes: Continue processing the butter until it becomes completely smooth. Homemade peanut butter will still be a little more gritty than commercial peanut butter, but should be spreadable at this point.
Photo Credit: www-homemadenutrition-com.jpg
Green Pea Pesto
Yield: 1 cup
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (or fresh ones, blanched)
handful of mint and basil
3 cloves minced garlic
a few big squeezes of lemon juice (to taste)
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
⅓ cup cashew nuts
drizzle of olive oil
salt & pepper
1. Pulse all pesto ingredients together in a food processor. Taste and adjust.
2. Serve on grilled crusty bread or toss hot pasta and sprinkle with more cheese