Sugar snap salad

Last night, I walked bare footed through the overgrown rows of my garden to see what might be ready for dinner. The air lay heavy against the forest of green, bearing down against the sturdy roots of the pole beans and the orange blossoms of the squash.

I plucked a head of bib lettuce, a few leaves of romaine, and the thin, wavering head of an early scallion. Then, I noticed the peas—entangled with the mesh of the chicken wire, hanging full and ripe and bursting out from the pod—was my very first crop of sugar snaps.

I caught them in their prime, each edible pod rich with the reticent sweetness of early summer and possessing a crispness particular to the just-picked variety. When I was through with the patch, empty tendrils buoyed back towards the sky and the plants stood free of their fruit.

The simple salad we enjoyed for dinner would, with other ingredients, have been nothing special, made up as it was of only lettuce, peas, balsamic, and oil. But with the distance from garden to table so short, it proved instead to be one of the best I've had this year.


Serves 2

Pick and wash 1 head Boston bib lettuce and several leaves romaine lettuce or other sweet early green. Dry and tear into small, wide salad bowl. Top with 1/2 cup sugar snap peas, broken in half. If desired, add several sprigs finely chopped chives, wild garlic, or scallion. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar; toss well and eat immediately.


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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.