As Spring begins to quickly fade into Summer, I wanted to post one last nod to the tender and delicate flavors of Spring produce. The first round of English peas is a laborious time in the kitchen, everyone joins in to shell the peas. But there is a balance to spending a lot of time shelling peas, as they require hardly any preparation to shine. There is a big difference between cooking with freshly shelled English peas and frozen peas or canned peas. When I meet people who do not like English peas a movie begins to play in my mind. One of canned peas, army green in color, mushy in texture. A fitful child at a table, forced to “finish your vegetables” by a tired parent. Usually the peas are accompanied by a rubbery piece of chicken or a greyish piece of meat. It’s a sad scene. You may think this drastic, but it’s the only way I can think to explain anyone’s adherence to one of springs most tender, sweet, and fresh flavors. I stand to say that English peas, fresh from the pod, are one of the most symbolic spring vegetables. They are best just barely cooked, enough so that they are bright in color and retain a pleasant pop when you bite into them.
This salad is one we have making at the Inn this season, a guest favorite and possibly one of my personal favorites from this year. There is no doubt that peas and ham are made for each other, and adding burrata… well that’s just showing off. Enjoy while you still can.
Sweet Pea Salad with Burrata & Country Ham
Serves 4-6 people
1 cup fresh English peas, shelled
1 tablespoon shallots, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon dried harissa
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 cups of sugar snap peas, shaved thinly on a bias
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon parsley, minced
¼ teaspoon mint, minced
½ cup pea shoots
4 oz. burrata
5 (paper thin) slices of country ham
For the Peas:
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add in English peas. Cook for 20-30 seconds. Strain from water and quickly shock them in ice water to stop the cooking. Strain from ice water and set aside.
In a small saucepot add in olive oil. Add in shallots, garlic, and dried harissa. Gently warm, about 2 minutes. You want the olive oil to be hot, but you do not want the garlic or shallot to begin to brown. Remove from heat. Set aside and cool in he refrigerator.
In a bowl mix English peas and cooled harissa marinade. Set aside in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
To assemble the salad in a bowl mix marinated English peas, shaved sugar snap peas, lemon juice, salt, parsley, and mint. Pour into a wide bowl or serving dish. Tear the burrata into large pieces and layer over the peas. Tear the country ham into rustic pieces and spread over the peas and burrata. Garnish with the pea shoots and any edible flowers you have on hand. Bachelor buttons are especially nice. Savor the last few weeks of spring.