We all know the saying, “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” but what to do when life gives you an abundance of fresh herbs? Look for as many ways to utilize and preserve these pops of freshness, flavor and color as you can. Right? I have a lengthy history of growing and cooking with herbs but always welcome new recipes and ways to take advantage of their presence during our short but fertile growing season. Professional chefs use herbs in abundance, but for many, their use may seem a bit intimidating. There are many valuable tips on the subject available online so I won’t duplicate, but I will share a recent recipe I discovered and also another use that has delighted me as of late, herb bouquets. That’s right, a bouquet that looks beautiful, has a sweet and pleasant aroma, gorgeous textures and is completely edible. It is a great way to give your plants a frequent trim so they remain full throughout the season. Keep one near your workstation as a reminder that a bit of freshness is exactly what is needed for those seasonal dishes currently on your menu. I like to add a few flowers (edible of course) to mine for a colorful visual, my favorite being nasturtiums. They are bright and both the leaves and flowers, bearing a bit of a peppery flavor, can be consumed. They have had a presence in my garden for many years and I consider them an annual “must have.”
I discovered the featured recipe while perusing my cooking magazines. It appealed to me because of its use of fresh dill, mint and green garlic. If you cannot find green garlic, which is the young plant harvested early before the bulb is formed, regular garlic (be sure to use less as it is spicier and more intense) or garlic scapes can be used. Scapes are the curly shoots from the plant that form later in the season as it matures. This is what I used as green garlic is harvested earlier and no longer available here.
Here is how it goes down.
SNAP PEAS with GREEN GARLIC CONFIT & DILL VINAIGRETTE
Recipe by Jeremiah Stone & Fabian Von Hauske (featured on the cover of Food & Wine Magazine, July 2016)
2 stalks of green garlic, trimmed and thinly sliced crosswise (I used garlic scapes but I believe regular garlic would also work)
1c extra-virgin olive oil
1/4c fresh lemon juice
1/4c chopped dill
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 1/2 lbs. sugar snap peas, trimmed, some chopped and some left whole
6 white button mushrooms, halved and sliced thin lengthwise
1/4c torn mint or small mint leaves
- In a small saucepan, combine the garlic and olive oil and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat until the garlic is very tender, about 10 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let cool completely. Strain the oil into a small bowl.
- Transfer the green garlic to a medium bowl. Add the lemon juice, dill and slowly whisk in the oil until well blended. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a bowl, toss the snap peas with 3/4 cup of the vinaigrette.
- Transfer to a platter and scatter the mushrooms on top. Garnish with the mint and serve with the remaining vinaigrette.
Make ahead: The vinaigrette can be made and refrigerated for 2 days.
I really enjoyed eating this and found it simple to make. The spiciness of the garlic infused oil, paired with the grassiness of the dill and bright acidity of the lemon made a very flavorful dressing that I plan to use on future creations. Then you have the winning combination of the sweet and crunchy snap peas, earthy mushrooms and just a pop of fresh mint. Delicious and the epitome of seasonal freshness, this gorgeous dish has definitely found a permanent place in my recipe file.
As we celebrate the Fourth of July, I hope we can all take a moment to reflect on our forefathers and their vision for the United States and its people. Much has changed over the years, but one thing that must remain is the principle of equal opportunity for all. This holiday, centered around family, food and fireworks, is the perfect time to give thanks for all we have and to spread the love, one dish at a time. I will be taking a couple of weeks off from writing the blog to spend time with my daughter and her children. Our visits usually serve as fodder for good stories and time in the kitchen. Until next time, be safe. Sending love from my kitchen to yours. Jeanne