Green Pea Guacamole


As a cookbook collector, there’s always a few books that fall by the wayside, forgotten, gathering dust, at the back of a shelf. They usually have a bookmark for a recipe I’ve vowed to try. One of these days.  And then in July, the New York Times food writer Melissa Clark posted a recipe for green pea guacamole. The twitterverse lit up with scorn for this easy substitute, and I suddenly remembered that cookbook at the back of the shelf. Secret Ingredients: The Magical Process of Combining Flavours (Bantam, 1988) was written by the late inventive chef Michael Roberts. In it, he talks about the process of combining flavours, often unusual ones. I’ve been intrigued by many of the recipes, one for a salmon tartare using tomatillos in tandem with capers and lemon juice comes to mind, and his inventive takes on “secret ingredients,” such as combining leeks with tarragon for a better leek flavour, or adding a capful of pernod for a more pronounced tarragon flavour. Now that I have the book open in front of me, I see the amazing tome it is. But back to #guacamolegate!

According to chef Roberts, he served the green pea dip at a press party when a woman told him that along the border between Texas and El Paso, taco joints would cut their guac with peas when the price got too high. Lately, where I live in Victoria, Canada, avocados are priced as high at $2.50 each, so the recipe is timely. Frozen peas are the best for this. They maintain their vibrant green colour and sweetness. The recipe is like many guacamole recipes that have come before it; jalapeno, onion and cilantro, but this one has a hit of ground cumin, lime juice and olive oil to add tartness and creaminess. He also requests that you removed the seeds from the chile, but really?  Unless you or your diners have a serious aversion to chile heat, leave the seeds in. Please.

The resulting recipe is rich with lots of texture from the peas and a wonderful balancing act is achieved with the cumin, lime juice and cilantro playing around with a hit of picante! As in chef Roberts words, “These are peas in avocado clothing,” I kind of miss the avocado, frankly, and I’m tempted to make it next time with half peas and half avocado like they do in Texas/El Paso way.

Here is the recipe (adapted) Sorry!

Green Pea Guacamole by chef Michael Roberts

2 Tbsp. virgin olive oil, 2 Tbsp, fresh lime jucie, 1/4 bunch cilantro, trimmed of long stems, 1 jalapeno, stemmed and roughly chopped, 1 pound frozen (defrosted) peas, 1/4 tsp. ground cumin, salt to taste, 1/4 red onion, finely diced.

Combine oil, lime juice, cilantro, and jalapenos in a blender and blend until cilantro and hot pepper are roughly pureed. Add peas, cumin, and salt and blend until smooth. There will still be some lumps, but this adds to the textural interest of the guacamole. Adjust seasoning, adding more salt or lime juice. Scrape the guacamole into a decorative bowl and garnish with diced red onions and bring out the tortilla chips.

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