For Easter lunch, daughter Elizabeth served this salad along with beef tenderloin. The beef, thickly sliced and served at room temperature with horseradish sauce, was a wonderful Spring treat.
Ah, but the salad! The list of ingredients is conveniently short: sugar snap peas, radishes, mint leaves and feta cheese. When combined with just a bit of olive oil and lemon juice, it’s lemony and minty, cool and crunchy, a perfect and refreshing accompaniment to meat.
Lizzie got the recipe from Bon Appetit. It calls for a spice called sumac, which, trust me, you don’t need in order to make this. Lizzie didn’t have it and it wasn’t missed.
However, I was curious and I Googled it. Sumac is a traditional Middle Eastern spice that has been used as far back as Roman times–before they had lemons in Europe–to approximate the flavor of lemon juice. It is milder and less acidic than real lemon.
I found sumac at Penzey’s Spices (we’re lucky enough to have a local Penzey’s). It’s red, like paprika, and it really does have a tangy, citric taste that is very pleasing. If you can find it, I recommend giving it a try. Middle Eastern cooks use it as a table-top condiment.
Instead of sumac, which she didn’t have, Liz added fresh basil along with the mint. I’m slinging superlatives appropriately when I say that it was utterly delightful.
Make this now, but also put it in your hopper for a summer salad side dish. You’ll appreciate its coolness when it’s blistering hot outside. I made half the recipe for just two of us, and we had leftovers for lunch.
1 1/2 lbs. sugar snap peas, sliced in half diagonally
3 T. olive oil
1 T. lemon juice
1 t. white wine vinegar
1/2 t. sumac, plus more for garnish (if you don’t have sumac, you can garnish with paprika)
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced (I used a mandoline)
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
2 T. chopped fresh mint
Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside. Cook sugar snap peas in boiling salted water for 2 minutes and drain. Transfer to bowl with ice water to stop cooking and retain bright green color. Transfer to paper-towels to dry.
Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and sumac in a small bowl.
Combine snap peas, radishes and feta cheese in a large serving bowl. Add dressing to salad and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and more lemon juice, if you like. Garnish with chopped mint and a sprinkle of sumac or paprika.
Note: You can make this salad a day ahead, but do not add the dressing. Refrigerate the salad ingredients and dressing in separate bowls until serving time, then toss with dressing and garnishes.