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Crazy, Spicy, Cool…
This is one of the easiest last minute side dishes to make when trying to impress guests, brighten up the dinner table, or sneak more green stuff into your diet. The cool mint balances out spicy chili paste while the sweetness from the peas serves as a perfect vessel for those flavors. I know it looks fancy and complicated as if made by a long list of obscure epicurean ingredients. You likely have 4 or 5 (of the measly 6) ingredients to this recipe in your kitchen right now!So, from where did this dish come? From a dreamland of char-broiled chicken, spiced chickpeas, and lemon garlic sauce; Nando’s Peri Peri in Chicago, IL. This Portuguese influenced, South African restaurant is decorated with bottle after bottle of its sharp flavored sauces called Peri Peri. They brush their bone-in chicken parts with the spicy mic as they grill them in house. Although their chicken is legendary, the unsung star of their menu is their infamous bowl of “Macho peas”. But now YOU can have them at home too!
Peas; the perfect protein-packed-produce
As many vegans and vegetarians know (neither of which am I), packing enough protein into a plant-based diet can be a challenge. This crucial component in our meals isn’t only found in steak, chicken, or other meats. It also resides in vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, and you guessed it, peas. So, this side dish is not merely spicy, flavorful, and chock full of Vitamin K and C. It also provides 8 grams of protein per cup and is a reliable source of fiber.
(Learn more about pea nutrition and their long list of health benefits HERE.)
For those of us who have an aversion to frozen vegetables over fresh (typical spoiled California kid), peas are an exception. They’re one of the few frozen vegetables that taste as great from frozen as they do fresh. They are always “in season” as long as your store has a freezer aisle. Side note: They make the best ice packs since they mold to whatever part of the body ails you!
I’ve seen that stuff before!
The “supporting actor” to this phenomenal pea performance is sambal oelek. If you’ve never used this before, I’m pretty sure you have seen it in the Asian foods section of your grocery store. It’s inexpensive and useful for many dishes. Throw a dollop in guacamole for a garlicky spice. Mix in a touch with soy sauce, vinegar, and brown sugar for a spring roll dip. Or, as I like to do in the winter, stir a teaspoon into your bowl of chicken noodle soup. Sambal is also wonderful in marinades to give your BBQ meats a little punch. Bottom line, for $2-$3 it’s worth buying something of which you may be a little unsure.
I use my Cuisinart Smart Stick with food processor attachment to make these. Why do I tell you this? Because it’s one of my favorite tools. I seriously think every home cook, whether seasoned are just learning to boil water, should have it in their kitchen. Its a true work horse.
Check out why by reading, A Kitchen Tool Worth Buying, the Enemy of the “Uni-Tool”.
Easy Side Dish, “Macho” Peas (from Frozen!)
- 16oz bag of frozen peas*
- 3 tbsp fresh mint, finely minced
- 2 tbsp flat leaf (Italian) parsley, finely minced
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp sambal oelek
- 3 tbsp EVOO
- 1/4+ tsp (to taste) sea salt
*Chefs note- Please be sure to buy PLAIN frozen peas. Make sure they aren’t seasoned, sauced, or “cheesy”. The best way to make sure is to turn the bag over and look at the “Ingredients”. It should only say “peas”.
- Microwave your peas according to the packages instructions in a large bowl.
- Take out 1 cup of the peas and process in a food processor. (This is another reason I love my mini processor. Its perfect for quick little jobs like this!)
- Pour the processed peas back into the large bowl of remaining whole peas.
- Add in the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. That’s it. Seriously, that’s it!