Pea, Pecorino and Pistachio Salad

May 19, 2010


Basics, Dinner, Local Eating, Lunch, Recipes, Side Dishes, Spring, Summer

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Christopher and I like to cook on Fridays: cozy up to the stove, cool ourselves down with a few glasses of wine, and then dance in the middle of the living room when all’s said and done. It’s a pretty great way to date—and it shaves a lot of time off primping, waiting for tables, or standing in line to have a surly man look at your driver’s license. We’re really quite self-sufficient at this whole romance thing.

Last Friday was especially perfect for this type of stay-at-home date, as there was record rainfall accompanied by severe thunder claps and lightening white-outs. High levels of risk were involved in braving the commute and so, naturally, there was considerable excitement. The house was our ultimate destination: we were like heroes getting home.

But once we got home, there was a penetrating lull. The world of roads and traffic lights and office printers ceased to exist, and it was just the two of us, perched in our little gray house, hoping we wouldn’t be washed away. Before Christopher got home, I listened to Steve Inskeep drone the day’s final news while doing some mise en place, when all of a sudden—MEEEDDIIIIDIIIDUUUMMMDUMP. The high-pitched storm warning reminded me that things were serious outside, but that I was safe at my counter top, chopping herbs.

Christopher called shortly thereafter, to tell me about a puddle on Richmond Avenue that went up to the doors of his truck. I waited for him to get home while Lupe tried to maintain close contact to both of my calves as I hobbled through the kitchen gathering ingredients for our salad. She’s great at scooting between the ankles and staying there, despite the risks it poses to those of us heating skillets and opening bottles of wine. Christopher’s arrival was more celebratory than usual, and rivers of wine seemed to flow through the entire night. I wish it would rain like that more often.


Generally, on these Fridays, I handle the plant parts, and Christopher deals with the animals. Last week, he used a grill pan to cook up some trout he’d blackened with a generous coating of curries, peppers and other pungent dusts. Meanwhile, I sliced a few tomatoes (yellow, orange, red) into discs about the size of a silky mozzarella ball, alternating the two between slices of prosciutto and basil. I wanted more herbs, but neither Christopher nor I could brave the moat that had developed between our back stoop and our garden bed.

I wanted more herbs for my salad, too, and indeed the original recipe called for parsley and mint, both of which I had to do without. It would have frustrated me—especially since maneuvering the refrigerator door with a dog between your feet can be quite maddening—except that such extraordinary weather was inspiring some girlish nerves… would the power go out?… would we have to eat our dinner to a dim flame?… I promptly forgot about the mint. As it turns out, our lights stayed on, which was a good thing, because my feet were eager to cut the Sisal.

The salad you see now is a reproduction: I had some leftover peas, pistachios and a bit of Pecorino, and I made this again the very next day—when the sun came out and the birds took baths in sidewalk puddles.  It was just as delicious under clear skies.

Pea, Pecorino and Pistachio Salad

Adapted from Food and Wine

Serves 4-6

1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 T honey
1 large egg yolk
3 T cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
5 ounces baby arugula
1 large head frisée, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped mint
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 cup frozen baby peas, thawed
½ cup pistachios, roasted in a skillet and salted (or pre-roasted)
1 cup shaved Pecorino Romano cheese (3 ounces)

In the bottom of your salad bowl, whisk lemon juice, honey and egg yolk.
Drizzle in olive oil until emulsified, adding more if you prefer an oilier dressing.
Season with salt and pepper and place arugula, frisée and herbs over the dressing—do not coat.
In the meantime, prepare your other ingredients.
Just before serving, toss the leaves then gently add remaining ingredients.
(You can toss to incorporate, although I preferred to serve mine with the nuts and cheese on top.)

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