Our brief, glorious growing season is underway here in Wisconsin. Spring onions, lettuces, ruby-red strawberries, and peas are all available at farmers’ markets.
Frozen peas are a kitchen staple for most of us, and for good reason. They hold up better than many veggies after months in icy storage. But fresh peas are something else altogether: sweet, almost floral, and tender yet with a snap when you bite into them. They need to be cooked and eaten as soon after picking as possible; the sugars will turn to starch fairly quickly, and they’ll lose their sweetness. They’ll still be edible and tasty, just not … special.
When you can get these little gems, let other flavors take a back seat. I combined them with delicate baby spinach and a light drizzle of lemon dressing. Fresh mint is the perfect foil for the sweet peas. A few shavings of parmesan are a salty finish.
I also made the salad with a few sliced radishes. I managed to grow foot-tall plants with radishes not much bigger than peas. I did make a tasty pesto with the leaves; watch for future posts for that recipe. I really need to amp up my gardening skills.
Fresh Pea and Spinach Salad
2 cups shelled fresh peas
salt and pepper
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey
3 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. chopped fresh mint
1 tbs. chopped chives
4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
1-2 oz. parmesan
1 large radish, thinly sliced, optional
Place the peas in a saucepan with lightly salted water just to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about 4 minutes, just until the peas are tender. Drain the peas and plunge into cold water to stop the cooking.
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, and honey. Drizzle in the oil and whisk until the dressing is emulsified (that is, completely combined and slightly thickened). Stir in the mint and chives, taste, and add salt and pepper.
Place the spinach on a platter. Stir half the dressing into the peas, then spoon the peas in a mound on the spinach. Use the vegetable peeler to shave the parmesan into shards on top of the salad. Add the radish slices if using. Serve the extra dressing on the side.