English Pea, Snap Pea & Strawberry Salad

Peas, strawberries, and mint are quintessential English spring tastes, and their arrival is a sure sign that the sun is spending far more time in the northern hemisphere. A French feta made from sheep's milk has a creamy texture and mildly tangy taste that contrasts beautifully with the blanched crunchy peas and smooth, sweet, local strawberries. Gorgeous and simple to make, this sun kissed plate is best when strawberries are available locally grown.

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English peas are tricky. More often than not, flash-frozen bags are sweeter, greener & less starchy than in-the-shell peas from the farmer's market. If fresh on the vine peas were harvested that morning, then their green glory is hard to beat. Otherwise, hesitate not, and head to the freezer.

Kitchen Notes

Make this dish only when local strawberries are available. The commercially grown strawberries are designed to travel long distances and do not provide the same intense flavor required in this dish. Chocolate mint is particularly wonderful in this salad. Frozen English peas are wonderful if extremely fresh peas in the pod are unavailable. 

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INGREDIENTS

1/2 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed & strings pulled

1 1/2 pounds English peas, shelled (about 2 cups), or use frozen peas

2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 cups local strawberries, small ones halved, larger ones quarterd

2 ounces mild, creamy feta

2 tablespoons chopped pistachios, optional

8 to 12 mint or basil leaves, julienned

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon champagne vinegar

Maldon Sea Salt Flakes

Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

1. Fill a 4 QUART COCOTTE 3/4 full with cold water, add 2 tablespoons salt, and bring to a boil.

2. In a large bowl, make an ice bath and reserve.

3. Drop the snap peas into the water for 1 to 2 minutes (remove 1 after 1 minute and check for doneness--the snap pea should be crunchy, but not taste raw). Remove peas with a Chinese strainer and plunge into the ice bath to stop cooking and to preserve the brilliant green color.

4. Drop the English peas, fresh or frozen, into the same pot of boiling water as the snap peas. Cook 1 minute only. Remove the peas with a Chinese strainer and plunge into the ice bath to stop cooking and to preserve the brilliant green color.

5. Drain all of the peas and place on a large plate (or divide among 4 salad plates). Pick out a handful of the snap peas, open them to expose the beautiful interiors, and return to the plate. Cut 8 to 10 of the snap peas into thirds on the bias and disperse those on the plate too.

6. Disperse the strawberries and mint (or basil) around the plate(s) and crumble the feta over the top of the salad. 

7. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with vinegar, and finish with sea salt flakes, a few grinds of black pepper, and the nuts if using.

SERVES 4

 

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