Flyer travel writer Paul Gerald lives in Portland, but he grew up in Memphis, and when he was visiting earlier this summer, Susan and I took him to the Agricenter Farmers Market. (Yes, we do this for fun.)
Paul cooks for his parents when he visits, and he had already fixed a batch of field peas, a southern specialty he can’t find in the Northwest. I thought of his fond accolades for our humble pea at the downtown market where I spotted bags of fresh peas still available for purchase. I bought two: lady peas and speckled butter beans.
At home, I had a beautiful bowl of cherry tomatoes from my CSA, a necessary ingredient for my favorite fresh pea salad made with radishes and mint. I’m not sure where this recipe came from originally, as I tweak it, but this is what matters: The combination of halved cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced radishes, field peas, and lots of fresh mint is delicious. I also tried this with my speckled butter beans, but the taste and texture didn't come close to the salad made with peas.
Here’s the basic recipe I follow. Leftovers keep well for a day or two:
Make a simple lemon, rice wine vinegar, and olive oil vinaigrette. I use a basic ration of 3:1:1. Add a little finely diced shallots. Mix well.
Cook peas so they are tender, but not mushy. Drain and set aside.
Slice cherry tomatoes in half, slice six or seven radishes, and combine with half a cup of mint. I like to use the whole leaves, but you can chop it or use less if you aren’t a mint freak like. Season with salt and pepper.
Combine the peas and vegetables and toss with dressing to taste. Serve at room temperature.