This year’s pea salad, by Kate Johnson (recipe)
One of the things I enjoy the most about late spring and early summer is the harvesting of my English peas. Garden fresh peas cannot be matched. They are meaty and crunchy with a sweetness that eludes frozen, canned or even Trader Joe’s raw.
As it goes, sometimes gardening takes a village. This year, it happened that my husband and I were traveling when my peas matured and needed to be harvested. Thanks to our friends and fellow gardeners, Mike and Denise, we had a container of fresh peas in the fridge upon our return. It is important to get them off the vines when they are large and sweet — if you pick them too soon, they will not be well developed and if you wait too long, they lose all their sweetness and can become woody. Once picked, you can place in the refrigerator in a container and they will maintain their delicious nature for several weeks. In the end, I typically do three harvests; the first and last are smaller. The last harvest will get dried and the peas will be used for the next year’s planting.
I recently had a request from Ms. Linda Marrone to share my recipe for Pea Salad in this month’s article — and am happy to accommodate. Every year, I make a big batch and commence to munch it down for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It can stand alone or accompany almost any meal. My recipe is very open-ended and changes each year depending on what sounds good at the time. I hope this motivates you to plant some peas next year (soak your seeds overnight, plant them in the ground on March 1, put your trellis up immediately). Warning: You might well find yourself at 2 a.m., spoon in hand, standing in front of the refrigerator — you have been warned!
This year’s Pea Salad
4 cups freshly shucked English peas
1/2 cup hard salami
1/2 cup Wisconsin Cheddar aged for 1 year in a cave (sampled at Trader Joe’s — delicious!)
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
1/2 cup fresh red/orange pepper
1/2 cup red onion
2 spoonfuls of homemade yogurt
2 spoonfuls of organic mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste.
Blanch your peas. Bring a pot of water to boil, add peas and keep over the flame for 2 minutes. It will not return to a boil and that is fine. You do not want to overcook. They should pop in your mouth when you bite them, maintaining their crispness. Drain immediately and place in an ice bath to stop cooking process. Cut salami and cheese into small cubes, olives into half or quarter size and red pepper and onion into a dice. Mix all chopped ingredients and add yogurt, mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste. If more or less of any ingredient suits you — make it yours!
(You can easily make this a vegetarian or vegan dish by cutting out the meat and/or cheese and changing out the dressing for a vegan friendly version.)
Meat: Trader Joe’s prosciutto, Aidell’s Chicken Apple sausage, Kielbasa, Bratwurst, Chorizo, Lamb Merguez Sausage. Cubed, pan fried and cooled before adding to the salad.
Cheese: Jalapeno White Cheddar Cheese, Tillamook Hot Habenaro Jack cheese, Manchengo Cheese, Swiss Cheese, Extra Sharp Cheddar. I like good quality cheese from Trader Joe’s or Costco. I do enjoy the extra flavor the hot cheeses bring, however, an aged cheddar is wonderful as well.
Olives: Green, black, marinated or Kalamata — I have tried them all with good results.
Onion: White, red or sweet — ditto the olives
Dressing: I have used all mayo, all yogurt and have also mixed with sour cream. I prefer this type of dressing, but imagine a light vinaigrette would be wonderful.
Herbs/spices: I stick to less with my pea salad as I want to enjoy the peas.
Kate Johnson is a long-time resident of Carson City. She practices pharmacy locally at Costco Pharmacy and is an avid gardener, cook and lover of dogs.