Saturday, April 2, 2022: Spring Salad
April 2nd, 2022 by Alex Koster

Today I wanted to try something new but also stick with my goal of eating more healthy, plant-based foods. At the farmers’ market, there were beautiful pea shoots and fresh scallions I wanted to use, and I saw a “Herby Rice Salad with Peas and Proscuitto” recipe in The New York Times that looked interesting. The recipe (by Emily Nunn who has a newsletter called The Department of Salad) didn’t actually include pea shoots or scallions so my version isn’t exactly the same as Ms. Nunn’s but it’s still pretty good.

Spring Salad Ingredients (recipe based on Emily Nunn’s recipe mentioned above)

  • 2 cups white rice
  • 3 cups shelled peas (blanched if fresh, raw if frozen)
  • 2 cups fresh pea shoots (optional)
  • 4-5 scallions*, chopped (should be about 5 tablespoons), plus clean green stems from 2 scallions (rough chopped)
  • 2 lemons zested and juiced
  • 1 cup slivered basil *
  • 12-16 slices proscuitto (optional if truly committed to plant-based foods)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Sea salt to taste

* Nunn’s recipe had red onions and chives instead of scallions. Cook’s choice. Also, her recipe called for 1/2 cup mint and 1/2 cup parsley: neither of which my family loves so I just doubled the basil.

The first step, if you don’t have leftover rice, is to cook the rice: we have a rice cooker so I used that and then thoroughly rinsed it so it wouldn’t stick together and put it in the fridge. It needs to cool completely.

Then, since I had fresh peas, I blanched them briefly (I boiled a large pot of water, poured the peas in, let them cook for one minute, then drained and put them in an ice bath.)

Next, I zested and juiced the lemons and chopped my scallions, reserving a few of the long green stems (and rough chopping them).

Then I combined 1/2 of the chopped scallions, the scallion stems, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, red pepper flakes and a little salt to make a marinade for the peas.

I mixed in the peas and put the bowl, covered, in the fridge–it should marinate (refrigerated) for at least 20 minutes or up to 2 days.

When you are ready to make the salad, remove the longer scallion stems from the pea marinade. Then add the peas and the marinade to the cooled, cooked rice. (Note, some of the peas changed color, maybe because of the lemon juice, but they tasted fine.) Add the slivered basil and remaining chopped scallions and toss gently to combine. Taste and add salt and lemon juice if necessary.

If you are including fresh pea shoots, quickly saute them (1-2 minutes) in a nonstick pan

Then drape the cooked shoots (and prosciutto if using) on top of the salad. The result is a lemony and bright salad that is surprisingly filling. Great for lunch or a light supper. Enjoy!

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