Like salsa, hummus has become a staple in many kitchens. Anytime there's a meatless diner at the table, supermarket hummus is easy to find and a sure pleaser for any guest. New flavors abound, from artichoke to chocolate hummus.
In that spirit, try a new take on hummus for spring, this one made with sweet peas. This colorful green Sweet Pea Hummus With Roasted Spring Vegetables is hearty enough for a quick lunch or as an appetizer to take to a party.
If you are a hummus purist, I get it. Chickpeas, blended with garlic, tahini and lemon juice add up to a flavor combination that can't be beat. Perfecting a smooth, tangy hummus is an important skill for the 21st-century cook. But sweet peas have some qualities that make for a good dip, too. Their sweetness makes them a perfect foil for a dose of lemon juice and the nutty, toasty tahini. The soft, creamy centers of the peas purée to a lush texture, and the thin skins disappear into the dip.
Tahini is essential for the dip to become hummus. It also boosts the protein and minerals to a respectable level. Peas have 7 grams of protein per cup, and a tablespoon of tahini has 2.6 g protein. When going meatless, it all adds up.
Your dip will be greatly enhanced with a drizzle of good olive oil. Pick a flavorful extra-virgin oil, so you can really taste the peppery, true flavors of olives. Don't skip the oil, even if you have a fat phobia, because this is a healthy fat that adds great flavor.
For a spring array of dippers, roast up some radishes, baby carrots and new potatoes. Radishes will be popping out of the ground any day now. They are a wonderful vegetable to roast, allowing the oven to take some of the peppery snap away and turn them into tender, barely spicy little nuggets.
Baby carrots are always good for roasting. Be sure to get some browning on the tips for a full array of roasted carrot flavors. New potatoes make a crispy-crusted, creamy-centered finger food when piled around a bowl of tasty dip. I sprinkled these with paprika, instead of using the spice in the dip itself.
Toast a few whole-wheat pita wedges in a pan for a crisp, crackerlike dipper alongside the vegetables.
Robin Asbell is a cooking instructor and author of "Big Vegan" and "Plant-Based Meats." Find her at robinasbell.com.