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. 

Creamy Penne with Shrimp and Broccoli

This post is sponsored by Parrano Cheese. Thank you for supporting the brands that make A Thought For Food possible.

These last couple of weeks have been pretty packed. Eric and I went down to New Jersey at the beginning of the month to see my family. Most of our visits tend to be centered around holidays or birthdays, but for this trip we just went down to spend a few days with everyone and it made for a more relaxing stay. My parents even took us out to a great Mediterranean restaurant in Montclair called MishMish Cafe, where we got to eat some of the best pita and hummus I've had outside of Israel. A really fantastic and cozy spot that I can't wait to return to. When we got back, I immediately jumped into a variety of photo shoots... restaurants, events, and a cookbook. I know at some point I'll able to take a breath, but, for now, I'm just tearing through all this work. 

The weather has been so weird lately, with drastic fluctuations in temperature occurring daily. But apparently my body doesn't care about any of that because it's craving all the comfort foods. Roasted squash and soups and pasta. Lots and lots of pasta. I want it all the time. Now, I have some will power (very little, but some) and, so, I try to refrain from making it too often. However, when I do, I like to go big.  So, in working with Parrano cheese, I knew I wanted to use it for a wonderful, rich sauce. I grew up an Alfredo sauce lover and, in many ways, this is what this dish reminds me of. It's got the same salty and nutty notes of a Parmesan, but it's super creamy too. The pairing of the shrimp and broccoli make it feel a bit more substantial (and give it some nice color). And there's the finishing touches of cracked black pepper and fresh parsley that takes it beyond a decadent plate and round out the flavors. It's a simple recipe that comes together rather easily (everything cooks at the same time and can be tossed together in a bowl... which is my idea of the perfect dish).

To see where you can get your hands on some Parrano (so you can make this pizza), check out their store locator. 

Creamy Penne with Roasted Shrimp and Broccoli (Featuring Parrano Cheese)


For the cheese sauce
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk
2 cups finely grated Parrano Cheese
Garlic Powder

For the roasted shrimp and broccoli
1 large head broccoli, about 1 pound, cut into small florets
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
Olive oil
1 lb boxed penne, cooked

Fresh cracked black pepper
Fresh parsley, chopped


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a mixing bowl, toss broccoli and shrimp with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with 2 teaspoons salt. Spread across baking sheet and place in oven. Cook for 16 minutes, taking it out half way through to give it a stir.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour. Once combined with butter, add 1 cup milk and whisk until dissolved. Whisk Parrano Cheese into milk mixture. Once smooth, lower heat to a simmer. Season with garlic powder and salt. Keep warm until ready to use.

In a serving bowl, toss cooked penne with sauce. Mix in roasted broccoli and shrimp. Transfer to a platter or bowl and season with fresh cracked black pepper and chopped parsley.