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Spring Salad

Once again, I’m spurred to action of the cooking sort by rapidly aging produce. This time, it’s peas. Spring means fresh peas, and in a burst of enthusiasm I got shell peas from my CSA. And then promptly let them sit in the fridge for a week. Luckily, the awesome Orangette‘s podcast Spilled Milk just recently had an episode on peas that emphasized the fleeting freshness of these harbingers of spring. Basically, in their nature as beans, unless you eat them straight off the vine, you might as well cook the heck out of them because they really aren’t fresh fresh anymore after about 20 minutes past the picking.

So I shelled them today and then combined them with Simpson lettuce, my remaining radishes, and bow-tie pasta. In fact, I boiled the peas with the pasta, giving the bow ties only about 2 minutes head start in the salted hot water. Once all ingredients were assembled in the bowl, I dressed the salad with Pipe Dreams fresh goat cheese and a dressing of good olive oil, the pickle juice from cornichons (tiny French pickles) (including tiny onions), some fresh ground pepper and a bit of cumin.

The result –  warm pasta and peas tossed with the slightly wilted Simpson lettuce, radishes, and a dusting of the young goat cheese – made a very nice combo spring salad. Best served slightly warm, the peas add a lovely sweetness in contrast to the slight bitterness of the lettuce and the bright tartness of the cheese. The whole thing tastes like spring, even in June, and requires no more heat in the kitchen than one pot of boiling water.

To cool things down even more, I opted for a mint julep to go with this (another attempt at salvaging a wilting bit of farmer’s produce – the mint) but your options are wide open here. If you’re so inclined, you could go for a basil-infused vodka drink of some kind. Just think refreshing, green, and cool.

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