I’m not trying to be all whiney and complain-y on a Wednesday morning….
but let me winge for just a hot sec now, will ya?
I realize I am never totally happy with the weather. When it’s snowy and sleeting I stick out my lower lip and talk about how much I wish I was on an island somewhere out there imbibing fruity concoctions and being fanned by a banana leaf….and while we are at it, it wouldn’t hurt if said banana-leaf-fanner was someone like Ryan Gosling…or Don Draper.
(Not too much to ask, right?)
And now that it is finally HOT – that same hot I squished my eyes shut and wished upon every single star in this great big Western sky for for months on end – I can’t stop lusting over that amazing icy breeze that sneaks into the sides of my helmet while racing down the trails of Blue Sky Basin, or the smell of a cold Fall morning drifting into some forgotten and open windows.
Don’t get me wrong – I, for one, am nowhere near ready for Summer to be even close to over. After all, it just just started…..ahem….TODAY – and I am exactly 0% ready to stash away my bathing suits or don anything itchy and woolen that covers my arms and legs.
That all said – it’s been a string of tortuously hot scorchers here, folks. The past two days have reached record highs, with the Weather Channel attempting to fool me into thinking it was only ninety-seven, my car telling me it was one-hundred-and-nine (no joke), and, with every drip-drop of sweat that rolled off my forehead and down my cheeks, my internal-and-totally-accurate thermometer screaming that it was precisely one-zillion-degrees.
And I stand by that.
Put on a pair of long pants, a chef’s jacket, an apron, and then go stand in a kitchen with a hot grill behind you, six blazing burners beside you, and a blisteringly hot salamander cranking out heatwaves above your head?
So in lieu of posting the carrot and ginger soup I had planned for today, and in honor of the fact that today is actually the first official day of Summer, and finally to celebrate the fact that this opressive heat has finally – finally – broken just a bit today, here is the salad I have been scarfing down with reckless abandon over these past few hot-as-Hades days.
A super simple, super healthy, mix of freshly shelled Spring peas and thinly sliced cucumbers that is all held together with a light dressing made with Greek yogurt, dill, and lemon zest. A healthy smattering of salt and grind of fresh pepper is all the seasoning this salad needs to pop, and it requires no hot kitchen appliances or electric gadgets to put together. The yogurt dressing is creamy and tangy, yet also packed with protein and totally guilt free, as it is made with all-natural and low-fat Greek yogurt. The raw peas pop and snap in your mouth, giving off their amazing natural sweetness and starchy-chew, and the cucumbers become soft and slightly floppy in the dressing, while still retaining their texture and a crisp crunch at their edges.
Dill and lemon are natural favorites together, and they help tie the whole salad together with just a bit of zip and tanginess – two things that are necessities when faced with lunchtime decisions in fierce temperatures. It’s wonderful on it’s own, or also piled high on a slice of black bread (like pumpernickel) that has been smeared with a swoosh of fresh goat cheese. It would also be great stuffed into a pita pocket with a few slices of avocado, or even piled up on top of a piece of seared salmon, if you wanted to make a whole big fancy deal with it.
The salad takes just minutes to prepare, with most (or actually almost all) of the work coming from shelling the peas – and though this can be a bit tedious, it does seem like the perfect activity to complete while posted up on a porch swing with a glass of wine on one of these fiendishly hot days.
(Or in front of that creeky and chattery in-window-AC-unit for my former city-dweller brethren. Amen.)
Spring Pea and Cucumber Salad with Greek Yogurt and Fresh Dill
Serves 4 as a side dish
Peas are a bit frustrating in that it takes a whole mess of them to come up with just a cup; this is the only tedious part of the recipe though, and the reward of fresh shelled sweet peas is worth the time it takes to shell them. I got one cup from about a pound of whole peas, and you could always save the shells to use in stock.
English cucumbers are the type that come wrapped tightly in plastic wrap; they tend to be less watery then the big guys, and also have less seeds. They are longer, skinnier, more delicate, and easier to work with – I recommend using one if you can find it. That said, feel free to use one small regulat cucumber if you can’t.
I really don’t recommend using fat free Greek yogurt here; the 2% varieties have a great texture and lack the graininess that the fat free type has.
Slicing the cukes thin enough here is key – you want them to be very thin and flexible (no more than 1/8″ thick), so that they meld well with the dressing. I bought my mandolin here and I absolutely love it)
1 cup shelled peas (from about ~1lb English Peas in shell)
1 English cucumber
zest of one lemon
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used Chobani 2%)
1/4 cup chopped dill (from a good sized handful)
1 tsp salt + additional to taste
fresh cracked black pepper
On a mandolin, carefully slice the cucumber into very thin slices, no more than 1/8″ thick. In the bottom of a large mixing bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, chopped dill, greek yogurt, salt, and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Add the sliced cucumber and shelled peas, and gently fold the whole thing with a spatula to combine. The yogurt dressing should evenly cover all of the peas and cucumbers, and be distributed evenly. Taste, and add additional salt and pepper as necessary.
Let the salad chill in the fridge for an hour or so before serving, to allow the flavors to mix and marinate. Salad will keep for a day or so in the fridge, but is best enjoyed very cold and on the day it’s made.