A simple spring salad of lush green peas, green onions and the white soft cheese looks springlike, or is it not?
This week at IHCC, we are celebrating Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Escape to River Cottage by making one of Hugh’s dishes from his cookbooks. His River Cottage Every Day is about good food prepared from fresh ingredients, ideally seasonal and locally sourced. This happens to be how I like to cook.
You’d expect to see fresh peas at this time of year. But all I can find are the frozen petite peas which I keep in the freezer throughout the year. Despite my best intention, fresh peas appear to be in short supply in our areas. So, consider this spring salad something you can whip up year round. I don’t know whether it’s a good thing or not. Who knows in our seemingly upside down world!
Another counterintuitive fact is that peas are not really vegetables, botanically speaking. They are part of the legume family, which consists of plants that produce pods with seeds inside, such as lentil and chickpeas. Since green peas are high in complex carbs or starches, they are considered a starchy vegetable along with potatoes, corn and squash. I thought greens peas can be substituted for snap peas and snow peas. They look so similar. But in terms of nutritional content, green peas are quite different. Do you also know that green peas are one of the best plant-based sources of protein? That makes green peas so filling, along with their high amount of fiber.
You blanch the green peas in boiling water for no less than two minutes. Drain them and keep aside. Meanwhile, heat up some canola oil in the frying pan, stir in the green onions until soft. (I turned off the heat, and returned the still-warm green peas to the pot, turning it into a warm salad at the last moment.) Toss in the vinaigrette dressing and the goat cheese. I added some optional lemon thyme from my garden.
The sweetness of the peas, the creaminess of the soft cheese, the tanginess of the vinaigrette and the fresh note of the thyme elevate a simple spring salad into something unexpectedly stunning.
I’d continue to look for seasonal fresh peas. For a few weeks in the early summer, it’s prime time to take a break from frozen peas. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with frozen peas. Perhaps, spring is the season for change and renewal.
Salad of Baby Peas, Goat Cheese and Green OnionsPrint Recipe
- 1 pound very fresh baby peas or frozen petits pois
- 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
- 10 to 12 green onions, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal
- For the dressing:
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive or canola oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup ricotta or other soft, fresh cheese
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (optional)
Bring a pan of lightly salted water to a boil, drop in the peas, cook for a maximum of 2 minutes, then drain.
Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the green onions, and cook gently for 4 to 5 minutes, until soft. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the still warm peas.
To make the dressing, whisk the lemon juice and oil together in a bowl with plenty of salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the green onions and peas and stir gently until well coated.
Spoon the salad onto plates or dishes. Crumble the cheese over the top, scatter on the thyme if using, and serve immediately.
Adapted from River Cottage Every Day by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall