Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sugar Snap Pea and Cucumber Salad

Summer means salads. As the sun doesn't set now until at least 9pm, it means that dinner is a much more relaxed affair, taken in the conservatory, and made while listening to the music of the ice cream truck go tootling by.
Ah yes, summer.
And salads.
In a perfect world, I would say that all the ingredients for this salad come straight from my garden (including walnuts from my generations-old walnut tree). Alas, my "garden" in this case is the friendly neighborhood Tesco but the turn of the seasons means that sugar snap peas, asparagus, and all the glories of summer produce are at my beck and corporate call.

I was looking for a perfect side salad to go with some hearty protein-y main course, but in the end, this little number became the star of the show. Blanching the peas is by far the hardest part of this dish (and in and of itself doesn't take more than 10 minutes) and you end up with the freshest "summeriest" salad you could hope for. Protein was forgotten instantly as my roommate and I munched on this salad for days.

The other great thing about this salad is that it's light on the oil. The dressing contains barely a tablespoon, helped out by some added water/chicken broth. I thought I'd be able to taste the difference, but the dill, lemon juice, and cayenne go a long way with these vegetables, and you don't end up with a cloying dressing.

I also added in some extra cayenne, dill, and walnuts to boost the flavor. We're all about bold flavors in our house, but tone down the spice if you really want the fresh veggie taste to come shining through.

Active Time: 30 min
Total Time: 30 min

1 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted
1 tablespoon fat-free chicken broth or water
2 tablespoons walnut oil
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices


Have ready a bowl of ice and cold water. Cook peas in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until bright green and crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and immediately transfer to ice water. When cold, drain well and pat dry.

Mash walnuts to a paste with a mortar and pestle and whisk in broth, oil, lemon juice, cayenne, and dill until blended. Season with salt and pepper. Toss walnut mixture with peas and cucumber until vegetables are coated.

Nutritional Info: Each serving has about 59 calories and 3 grams fat.

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