It’s one of my favorite spring sights and it’s a sure sign of the season – the first English peas at the farmer’s market. Everything here is happening early. We’ve catapulted into almost summer. The neighborhood markets are starting a few weeks early to accommodate the produce that’s shooting out of the ground. Spring produce is competing with the first tomatoes on the vine…and this is all at the beginning of April. Seeing the mounds of pea pods – wedged between snap peas and beautiful corn and – is something that makes me shut my eyes and sigh happily. The sweetness and the soothing of shelling peas over a bowl, turning your nails green but you just don’t care. It’s worth it. Spring is here and all the bounty that comes with it.
While a bag of frozen peas rests in my freezer year round and get thrown into soups and casseroles and instant noodles and such, fresh peas get treated with kid gloves. They need nothing but a bit of a flash in boiling water, a bit of a douse in some cold to keep them frisky and a tiny amount of fussing with. I’ve had a chilled pea soup rattling around in my head but, in the meantime as I wait for that recipe to show itself, I wanted to make something that celebrated the sweet crunch and pop of these first peas. Some radish for crunch and color, flecks of salty cheese and some toasted nuts stirred together with a simple lemon vinaigrette. A couple chunks of crusty bread and short glasses of wine…and you have a perfect salad to celebrate the onset of Spring.
Spring Pea & Radish Salad – serves 4 to 6 as a side dish
– Bring a medium stock/soup pot full of water to a boil. Throw in the peas and allow to cook just until the peas are floating at the top. Drain into a colander and then either rinse with cold water or plunge into a bowl of ice water just to stop the cooking process. Drain again and allow to sit in the colander while you put the other salad elements together.
– In a large mixing bowl, combine the radishes and almonds. Add in the drained peas and stir to combine. Pour in the lemon juice and olive oil and stir again to coat thoroughly. Toss in the Parmesan cheese and taste – you can add kosher salt and pepper to taste depending on the saltiness of your cheese. Serve immediately – this salad is lovely at room temperature.
Thanks to my good friend Tony Clark for taking the photos in this post – it’s quite nice to cook and style and not have to worry about the photos, too.