I was very excited to read this month’s Recipe Redux theme, which is Fresh from the Garden – July fruits and vegetables.
Having lived abroad for a while and having travelled both to the US and overseas numerous times a year for my entire life, I’m well-versed on what many non-Canadians think Canada is like. Cold, clean, and that you can ski here in July. Seriously, I have had some crazy interactions with non-Canadians about the weather here. Many don’t realize that our weather is just like Chicago’s – super hot and humid in the summer, really freezing in the winter. No, we don’t live in igloos. Yes, we have microwaves. No, you don’t need a sweater here in June. Yes, it really is hot in the summer. Like, stinking hot.
Along the same lines, I don’t think some people realize that Canada, and specifically Ontario – which is my focus because that’s where I’m from – has a booming produce harvest from May until October. My recipe for this month’s theme uses fresh Ontario peas and watercress and is topped with burrata and a fresh lemon vinaigrette. Simple and beautiful, it’s truly a summer salad to be savored.
My mom used to buy huge bags of fresh Ontario peas, still in the shell, for my brothers and I. We fought over them then, and I still retain my affection for them (my brothers and the peas) to this day. Opening up the thick pod and finding large peas is a summer ritual for our family.
A lot of pea recipes pair peas with mint, but I didn’t feel like doing the peas and mint thing. I chose watercress for the recipe, because of its bite and crisp texture. Watercress is super high in antioxidants as well.
The burrata was a no-brainer. I first tasted burrata when I was pregnant with my second child, and I was hooked immediately. I kept going back to the restaurant where I had eaten it, because I couldn’t get enough. It’s still one of my favorite indulgences.
Like a large hunk of buffalo mozzarella, this is a ball of fresh cheese with a mild flavor. The best thing about burrata though is that when you crack it open, the middle is liquid cheese, which oozes everywhere. You can scoop it up with bread, stir it into pasta, or plop it on top of a salad, which is what I did here.
The entire cheese is edible, but for the purpose of the photographs, I did remove the outer layer of the cheese that encases the gooey center. Don’t worry, my mom and I ate it while I was taking the photos!
The lemon vinaigrette isn’t mine. It’s from Epicurious, and the original recipe is here.
Enjoy this gorgeous salad and remember: yes, we do have telephones in Canada.
Serves 6 as a side dish
4lb fresh peas, unshelled (about 4 cups shelled)
1 bunch watercress, washed, stems trimmed (around 2 cups)
1 250-g burrata, drained
1/2t lemon zest
2T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2t Dijon mustard
1/4t sea salt
3-4T olive oil
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Shell the peas into a large bowl.
Boil about 1 inch of water in a medium saucepan, and add the peas. Place a lid on the pot and steam the peas for 3-4 minutes.
Drain the peas and blanch with cold running water. Drain again and dry the peas very well by blotting them with a paper towel. Place into a large bowl. The more moisture the peas have on them, the less the dressing will stick to the salad.
Add the watercress to the peas and mix gently (watercress bruises).
Make the dressing by whisking together the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, mustard, and fine sea salt in a small bowl until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add 3 tablespoons of the oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly until the dressing is well blended. Season with fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. If desired, whisk in the remaining oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly.
Add the desired amount of dressing to the pea/watercress mixture and toss again gently.
Place the dressed salad on a platter and put the burrata on the top of it. Crack open the cheese with a knife and fork and drop the soft center in several places on top of the salad.