We're just home from five busy, wonderful days in Wellfleet. I took my copy of The Farm by Ian Knauer, and Elspeth and I had fun perusing it together. I'd been especially eager to try this beet and snap pea salad. It's not as quick and easy as the garlic scape pesto Elspeth wrote about a few days ago, but it's very tasty. It's also gorgeous. I thought the original recipe was fussier than it needed to be, so I've pared down the steps in our version.
Two tips. (1) Don't use several small beets, as I did the first time I made the recipe; it makes the peeling and slicing a big nuisance. A few good-sized beets are much easier to handle. (2) If you can find fresh black walnuts, lucky you. The taste is incomparable. Regular walnuts will work just fine, however.
We made this for lunch yesterday, after working all morning in the garden. It's more substantial than you might think, especially with the ricotta on it. We served it as a ploughman's lunch: with a platter of fresh carrots, cheese, two types of hard salami, and some nice crackers, alongside a big pitcher of freshly made iced tea. Then we sat down at the picnic table and dug in. We all agreed: it was different, a good addition to our usual salad repertoire, and altogether a perfect summer lunch.
BEET & SUGAR SNAP PEA SALAD
This recipe comes from The Farm by Ian Knauer. We've adapted it slightly to make it simpler. It serves 6.
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound sugar snap peas
1 pound beets; a combination of varieties—red and golden, for example—are especially beautiful
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint, plus a few leaves for garnish
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup ricotta
Toast the walnuts in the olive oil in a small skillet, over medium-high heat, for 2–3 minutes—until they are nicely golden. Watch them carefully, as they can go in an instant from just-right-done to burned. Set aside and let cool.
Trim the peas, slice them thinly on the diagonal, and put them in a large bowl.
Trim the roots off the beets, peel them, and slice them thinly. (If you have one, a mandolin works well for this.) Cut the slices into thin matchsticks and add them to the bowl with the peas.
Add the nuts and olive oil, mint, vinegar, salt, and pepper and toss the salad gently. Serve with a garnish of mint leaves and dollops of ricotta on the side.