Growing up, my mom always told me tales of the frozen peas her mother served as an after-school snack. I think the story was supposed to make me feel grateful for the apple and cheddar slices I got at home. But now, in my thirties, I realize my mom (and her mom) were really onto something genius.
Because although you may think of frozen peas as more of an emergency ingredient — of both last-minute soup and head bump varieties — they actually make the perfect start to really tasty snacks. And here’s a time-saving hint: When using fresh peas, be sure to blanch them first. But if you're using frozen peas for these snacking ideas, you can skip the blanching step and simply set a few cups aside to thaw, draining them of any thawing liquid before use.
Once upon a time, a cup of peas found their way into a hot, oiled pan. Off they went, into a 400-degree oven, and when they emerged, a new snack was born: oven-roasted peas. This crispy treat pops in your mouth, and you can spice it any way you want — but may I suggest Sichuan peppercorn, furikake, or even ground wasabi? Then, add them to your homemade nut mix, or just eat them by the handful.
Pea and Yogurt Spread
If you’re ready to take your midday snacking to the next level, you only need two ingredients: yogurt and peas. Yes, that’s it; just a simple layer of tart yogurt topped with fork-smashed or pureed peas. Add a drizzle of good olive oil, lemon zest, and a few fresh herbs to brighten the flavor, if you have them on hand. And if you find yourself with some dreamy burrata cheese or something equally creamy, go ahead and swap that in for the yogurt.
Baked Pea Potstickers
This is a quick, crunchy snack — especially if you use pre-made wonton wrappers and thawed frozen peas. You can keep the filling simple, with just a mix of pureed peas and spices, or mix the peas with drained ricotta (like in this Heidi Swanson recipe) for something a bit creamier and more decadent. Once filled, you can fry them in oil or steam them (as Heidi does). But for snacking purposes, I prefer to let my oven do the work, baking them at 400°F until they are golden, about 12 to 15 minutes.
Mini Pea Quinoa Meatballs
One cup cooked quinoa + one cup pureed peas + one egg = one awesome snack. Simply mix these ingredients together, add some spices (and a little Parmesan if you have it), and form mini meatballs, placing them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the pea and quinoa meatballs at 400°F until firm, about 20 minutes. Then enjoy while warm with a little yogurt dip. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week and reheat (or don't!) before enjoying.
If you are craving something fried, but looking to keep things slightly lighter and healthier, then give these pea and chickpea flour pakoras a try. Magical chickpea flour makes a protein-packed coating that only needs a little water and baking powder to thicken and puff. Once it has the consistency of pancake batter, simply add peas and spices to the mixture — I love warm curry and turmeric.
Then, to cook the pakoras, fill a sauté pan or skillet with one inch of oil. When hot and ready, use a spoon to carefully slide a tablespoon of batter into the oil. Flip the pakoras after two minutes and fry the other side for another two minutes. Transfer the golden pakoras to a paper towel-lined plate and serve while warm.
Note: You can always bake the pakoras using an oiled muffin tin. Place in a 375°F oven until the batter hardens and turns golden, about 12 to 15 minutes. But be aware, they will be drier then the fried version and will beg for some dipping sauce.