Sunday, August 11, 2013

Peas Are Nature's Candy

Peas seem to be one of those vegetables that people either adore or despise, their love-loathe relationship with the tiny green pods usually beginning sometime in early childhood. When I was a kid, my Dad would try to impress upon us the appeal of the pea by telling us, every time one hit the plate, that "Peas are nature's candy." I, a Daddy's girl if there ever was one, gobbled up his rhetoric, developing early on a liking for even the mushy, rather gross peas you find in the can (I still like these by the way, salted). My husband, however, hates peas, and rolls his eyes when I roll out the old "nature's candy" line (much like when I tell him, every time I hear John Goodman's name, that I love John Goodman). That is, until he met a fresh shelling pea.

I mean, seriously, how pretty is the pea? She's like the dainty, prim virgin of the garden.
Last week, I made a Shelled Pea, Tomato, and Feta salad. It was a hit, even with my husband. Last night, I tried to recreate the pea magic, riffing on a salad that I have eaten at least twice a week since, well, I could eat solid foods, a Cucumber Sour Cream salad (I've long been intrigued by the ubiquitous nature of this salad, popping up in numerous cultures around the world, as raita or tzatziki, for example; our affiliation with this side salad derives from the Polish version). Let's call my new version Peas and Cukes with Sriracha Dill Sour Cream.
Nothing beats the smell of a fresh cucumber, sweet, liquidy, and delicious. 
1. Start by peeling and dicing two cucumbers. Add to bowl. Shell peas (as many as you would like, eyeball it, and add to bowl). Season the cucumbers and peas with a few cracks of sea salt and fresh pepper and toss.
2. The two secret weapons of this salad that bring it depth of flavor are dill and Sriracha (you know, that red chili sauce with the rooster on it).
Two of the most perfect things on the planet. And two of my weapons against my
husband in the battle of the pea, because he loves both. 
Roughly chop a handful of dill and add to bowl. Add Sriracha (how much depends on the level of heat you like; I encourage you to start with a small amount and then add more after tasting. It's also not really about the heat level in this cool salad, but that slight chili flavor you get from the Sriracha).
Here's where you should be. It looks pretty already. 

3. I think the easiest way to make the dressing for this salad is to do it right in the salad itself. I add a dollop of sour cream (again the amount depends on the amount of veg in the bowl; for me, it's usually two and a half spoonfuls, using a large mixing spoon). Then a drizzle of honey, the juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon (along with some lemon zest, if you're feeling zesty). And stir. The water that leaches out of the cucumbers after you add the salt helps the dressing form, but I would suggest if you are going to make this salad far in advance to salt and drain your cucumbers before adding them, so that your dressing doesn't become runny. I like to make the salad right before we eat, however, so that most of the juice is still in the cucumber itself.
4. Mix it all together. And eat.
This picture doesn't do this salad justice. I could eat it every night. 
 Tomorrow, I have a huge surprise planned.  Stay tuned!!

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