Spring Pea Purée with Preserved Lemon

Spring peas require patience. You have to take the time to go to the farmer’s market to find them and then you have to remove them from their pods. If you have a lazy afternoon ahead and you want to sit on your front porch rocking in a chair and chatting with neighbors, by all means, shell a bunch of peas. Me? When a recipe calls for fresh peas vs. frozen peas, I always opt for frozen peas. Because they’re always so good and sweet. And because I don’t have a porch. And because I’m lazy. Stop judging me.

So last Thursday, when my friend Zach was coming over for dinner, I recalled a Spring Pea Puree (actually called a “Lemony Pea Mash”) from The Canal House by way of Bon Appetit. Though the recipe asks you to make it with 2 pounds of shelled peas, I said “HELL NO” and chose the frozen pea option. I have no regrets.

Look how simple this is: in a pot? Throw in a garlic clove that you quarter, 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves (don’t bother to stem), 1 tablespoon olive oil (I used more than that), a pinch of salt, and 1/2 cup of water….


Add 2 cups of peas and simmer 5 minutes for fresh peas and 2 minutes for frozen peas.


Drain and save the cooking liquid.


Place the peas in a food processor and process until smooth.


Now scrape that puree into a bowl and adjust it with lots of stuff. Start by adding a tablespoon of chopped preserved lemon peel (I used some of the flesh too, and more than a tablespoon), a squeeze of lemon juice, Aleppo pepper if you have it (crushed red pepper flakes if you don’t), salt, and more olive oil.


Once you mix, if it’s really stiff, you can use some of that reserved cooking liquid to lighten it up (like you do with hummus). I didn’t have to do that, though, because I was very happy with my puree. Wouldn’t you be happy with this?


It was sweet from the peas, acidic from the lemon, and slightly spicy from the pepper.

To serve, cut thick slices of sourdough bread and heat a cast iron skillet on high heat until very hot. Add the bread to the skillet and press down so more bread touches the hot surface.


When you flip, you should have some nice color on it.


Notice I didn’t add any oil to the skillet. This is my new indoor grilling technique, something I’ll write about tomorrow, wherein I really try to replicate the effects of the grill rather than simply frying something in hot oil. Because there’s no oil in the skillet, the bread really takes on a “grilled” flavor. Actually let’s take “grilled” out of quotes: grilled flavor.

At that point, I rubbed the bread with garlic and brushed it with olive oil.


I topped it with the spring pea puree and sprinkled everything with more Aleppo pepper.


This is a great way to start a spring/early summer dinner party whether you use fresh peas or frozen peas or both. If you can’t find preserved lemon, just skip it. Cook your peas with garlic and parsley in water, blend up with olive oil and lemon juice, and serve on grilled bread. Voila: easy peasy.

8 thoughts on “Spring Pea Purée with Preserved Lemon”

  1. Wow, that sounds good. In my experience, unless you’re fresh-picking the peas yourself, frozen is better. By the time the pods are transported to a market and sit around for even a few hours in a warm spring day, they taste less-than-fresh. Plus people like to see plump pods, and that means they’re on the verge of being too mature already. My mom always had a huge row of peas in her garden, and I spent 20-odd years optimistically buying peas in the pod hoping to get that fresh taste. Now I’ve given up, and buy the frozen baby peas, which are a lot closer. And you can make pea puree without setting aside an afternoon for shelling. ;-)

  2. For some reason, i’m surprised at how bright green this turned out – very pretty! Would probably also taste great with some ricotta dolloped on top of those crostini. Or as a pesto on pasta. Or spread in a layer on the bottom of a quiche or tart. Or on a turkey sandwich.

  3. Thank you so much for this – I have eaten pea puree on sourdogh toast for lunch the last two days and I am in love with the pea/preserved lemon pairing :D

  4. Dana @ Foodie Goes Healthy

    I’m in love with pea purée too. I’ve tried it with fresh and frozen peas, and sadly, it tastes better with the frozen. So no need for all the work and no reason to judge. Love the grilled bread in the iron skillet– can’t wait to try that. I like the suggestion to use a little water; that’s better than only oil. Oh, and try adding a little fresh mint too.

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