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A&E >  Food

Loaded with two types of peas, radishes and mint, this lemony salad sings spring

Pea and radish salad with mint can launch a multitude of spring meals.  (Tom McCorkle/For the Washington Post)
Pea and radish salad with mint can launch a multitude of spring meals. (Tom McCorkle/For the Washington Post)
By Ellie Krieger Special to the Washington Post

Though the recipe here is written in the usual detailed format, it’s much more carefree when you get down to it. The breezy spirit of this spring salad is basically this: Pick up the freshest peas – get two varieties for the fun of it – and radishes you see at the market, and, while you’re at it, grab a bunch of tender herbs, too.

When you get home, blanch and chill the peas, then toss them with sliced radishes in a simple lemon and olive oil dressing. That’s the essence of this bright, crisp, farmers market-inspired salad, which can launch a multitude of spring meals, topped with or served alongside just about any grilled or roasted protein or a nice slab of feta.

Keep in mind that sometimes the “freshest” sweet green peas are actually frozen. Shell peas turn starchy shortly after picking, so buy fresh ones only if you know they have been recently harvested. If not, you’re better off with a bag of frozen peas, which are frozen right after picking, locking in their sweetness, tenderness and nutrients.

This salad doubles down on the pea power, adding fresh snap peas (you also could go with snow peas) blanched just long enough to stay crisp and bright green, but without that raw taste. As for the radishes, there are so many stunning varieties in season now, go with whatever type looks most appealing. Different shades of red and purple are especially beautiful in this salad. I like to use a mix of colors and can never resist watermelon radishes when I come across them.

The lemony vinaigrette takes advantage of the fragrant citrus zest and juice and is mellowed out by a touch of honey, which echoes the sweetness of the peas.

For the tender herb, I went with mint because peas and mint are a classic combo for a reason, but any tender herb such as basil, dill, parsley or cilantro would work. Each forkful of these vibrant, in-season ingredients is like taking a bite of springtime.

Pea and Radish Salad With Mint

8 ounces sugar snap peas (about 2½ cups), trimmed and strings removed

1 cup (5 ounces) sweet green peas, fresh or frozen (see note)

½ cup (2 ounces) thinly sliced radishes, sliced into half-moons, or into quarter-moons if large

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

¾ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

½ teaspoon honey

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water.

Add the sugar snap peas to the boiling water and cook them until they are bright green and still crisp, 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the snap peas to the prepared ice bath (keep the water boiling) and let cool completely, then transfer to a large bowl and pat dry.

If using fresh peas, add them to the boiling water and cook until bright green and tender, about 2 minutes. Drain into a colander, then transfer to the ice bath (add more ice, if needed) to cool completely. If using frozen peas, place them in a colander and pour the boiling water over them until just thawed. Pat the sweet peas dry and add them to the bowl with the snap peas, then add the radishes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, zest, honey, salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the peas and radishes, then add the mint, toss to combine and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Note: If using frozen peas, there is no need to defrost.

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