Snap Pea and Feta Salad

You know those recipes that you become obsessed with and can't stop making? The ones you learn and then wonder where the heck they've been your whole life? That's how I feel about this snap pea salad from my friend/chef Brendan Pelley of Boston's Doretta Taverna. Doretta is a Greek restaurant and one that I've become quite a fan of over the last few months. Brendan's food is in line with how I like to eat: a vegetarian and seafood heavy menu featuring seasonal ingredients. His take on Greek food isn't necessarily traditional, but his recipes embody the overall sentiment of that cuisine, which comes through in recipes like this snap pea and feta salad. Many of the dishes are laden with olive oil and cheeses (all Greek, of course) and lemon. I had the pleasure of attending a demo he hosted last week and when we were presented with this dish, I turned to Eric and said "I'm going to prepare this all summer long." He didn't protest. It's a recipe that can be thrown together as a light lunch, or paired with a protein to serve for dinner. Whatever it is, I'd suggest a bright Greek white wine to sip on while you're dining. 


Mildly adapted from the recipe by Brendan Pelley of Doretta Taverna in Boston

Serves 4

1 pound snap peas
5 sprigs mint
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons Greek olive oil
6 radish, thinly sliced using a mandoline or sharp knife
8 oz crumbled Greek feta
1/8 cup chopped hazelnuts

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2. Add snap peas and cook for 45 seconds to blanch them. Prepare a large bowl of ice water.Using a slotted spoon (or strain them in a colander), transfer the snap peas to ice water.

3. Strain and slice the snap peas on bias. Transfer to a large serving bowl.

4. Transfer most of the radish to the bowl with snap peas, reserving some for garnish.

5. Tear the mint leaves by hand over the salad. Add 3/4 of the crumbled feta and toss all the ingredients in the bowl.

6. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over the salad and toss until coated. Check seasoning and add more salt, to taste.

7. Garnish with remaining feta, radish slices, mint, and chopped hazelnuts. 

Kale, Green Bean, and Lentil Salad with Crispy Tofu

Am I the only one who isn't over kale? I never became obsessed with it the way others did. Maybe that's why I still dig it. As a salad base, it holds up under bold dressings, never getting limp or soggy (Eric calls this "Dead Salad," which is something he actually enjoys eating. Don't ask me why. It's one of his quirks that I've grown to tolerate). Initially, this was going to be a green bean dish, but when I was at the store, things just ended up in my basket. The kale, some lentils, a container of tofu. And I thought, "Hey, these would all go nicely together!" Funny how that happens.

As is the case with all successful dishes, this bowl didn't last long.  (The photo down there of the half-eaten salad wasn't just me styling the plate... that's how it really looked). There was just enough left over to throw a container in the fridge. When I went back and hour later to grab another forkful, I found that it'd gotten even better, the kale tenderized and the flavors dispersed. So, if you can be patient, it's worth the wait. 

Kale, green bean, and lentil salad with crispy tofu

4-6 as a side

Tuscan kale, rinsed and stems removed
3/4 cup cooked lentils
1, 14 oz block extra firm tofu
1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into thirds
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
Chinese five spice blend
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Line a large plate with a couple pieces of paper towel. Place the block of tofu on the paper towel and weigh it down with something (a heavy can will do), to release as much liquid as possible. Let it sit for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, tear the kale into bite-sized pieces and transfer to a serving bowl. In a wok or large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add green beans and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly charred, about 5 minutes. Season with 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice blend and 1 teaspoon salt. Transfer to bowl with the kale.

Cut the tofu into 1 inch cubes and season with a sprinkle of salt and a dusting of Chinese five spice blend. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the same wok and set over medium-high heat. Add tofu cubes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure they brown even. Transfer the tofu to the bowl with the kale and green beans. 

Add the lentils on top of the other ingredients.

Make the dressing by whisking together sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour the dressing on on top and, using tongs, toss to combine. 

You can serve immediately, but it gets better if it sits for 30 minutes (or a few hours).

Tuna and Fiddlehead Salad with Ramp Dressing


Over the weekend, our friends hosted their first Passover Seder. It was very much an abridged version, with a 10 minute haggadah just to cover the key elements. Wine was poured, matzo and haroset and bitter herbs were consumed, and the four questions were said. Then, we feasted. I brought a triple layered gefilte fish (one of these days I'll get around to sharing the recipe) and there was turkey and matzo ball soup and potatoes and green beans and matzo-vegetable pie. We finished with macaroons (which made this guy very very happy) and flourless chocolate cake and fruit jellies. By the end, we were stuffed. Like, rolling on the floor, holding our bellies stuffed. It was a beautiful tradition they started and a lovely way to bring family and friends together.

None of this has to do with this salad recipe, except that it is Kosher for passover. I have a whole bunch of items ready to share with you, but they're all bready and cakey and, well, I just didn't want to post them during the holiday. But soon... very soon. There's been a lot of very heavy eating going on lately. We've been dining out more than usual. So, when we're home, I'll put together big salads for the two of us. There's often a hard-boiled egg and some tuna added. And, I had to include a few of my favorite spring vegetables. The ramp dressing comes together quickly. I'm sure ramps can be a little intimidating to some, but, really, don't be afraid. Just throw them in a blender with some oil and lemon juice and salt, and you have a bright, bold topping for a salad (or, as I've also done, roasted potatoes). 

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Tuna and Fiddlehead Salad with Ramp Dressing

2 servings

For the salad

2 eggs
1/2 lb fiddleheads, rinsed
1/2 lb small new potatoes, cut in half (or, if larger, quartered)
7oz jar tuna fillets in oil, oil drained
2 cups mixed spring salad greens, rinsed and dried
Kosher salt
Black pepper

For the dressing
1 cup ramps, rinsed and bottoms trimmed; greens and white parts coarsely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Place the potatoes in a saucepan with just enough cold salted water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 15 minutes.  Test with a small sharp knife. If the potatoes fall off the knife, they're done.

2. Meanwhile, place eggs in another pot and fill with water until it covers the eggs by an inch. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook for 17 minutes. Prepare a large bowl of ice water transfer eggs to bowl. Let chill for 10-15 minutes. 

3. To prepare the fiddleheads, bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the fiddleheads. While they're cooking, prepare an ice bath. After 6-10 minutes, use a slotted spoon to transfer the fiddleheads to the ice bath. Once chilled, drain the liquid.

4. Make the dressing by adding the tops of the ramps (green and white parts), lemon juice, olive oil and Dijon mustard to the bowl of a blender (this can also be done using an immersion blender). Blend until smooth. Season with salt.

5. Divide the salad greens on each plate. Top with potatoes, tuna, and fiddleheads. Drizzle dressing over salad. Finish with some coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.