Gerard Manley Hopkins said it best: "Nothing is so beautiful as spring". Warmth is returning, the gardens are sprouting, jasmine appears in the evening breezes. Relief is written all over the faces of people in the street. Sydney is never at its best during winter. The houses aren't heated properly, no one has the right clothes and we all suffer miserably through what is usually a month at the most of really cold weather. But when one icy month stretches to three or four as it did this year, the malaise can become extreme.
But now it feels like winter is finally leaving us. And salad days are returning. One of my darling besties introduced me to this salad, and it strikes me as a wonderful way to greet the newly warmer weather. Peas and mint are as classic as a Chanel suit, but this salad jazzes them up a little with fetta, pistachios and miniature Asian greens as well. From our cafe maestro Bill Granger, my favourite part of this salad is the cooked onion in the dressing, a softer flavour than usual choices such as green onions or chives would produce. As Hopkins would say: "What is all this juice and all this joy?A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning."
PS Apologies to people who are not keen on poetry - you can see the weather has gone to my head!
Pea Mint and Fetta Salad
200g fresh peas
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tsp seed mustard
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp honey
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
35g shelled pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
large handful fresh mint leaves
50g miniature Asian greens or snow pea sprouts (or baby English spinach)
75g feta cheese, crumbled
Blanch the peas in boiling water until they are just tender and bright green. Refresh immediately under cold water, until they do not feel hot any more. Heat a small pan over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp of the oil and cook the onion, stirring, for five minutes, or until it is soft.
For the dressing, whisk together the mustard, remaining olive oil, vinegar and honey and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Mix the onion, peas and pistachios in a salad bowl and pour the dressing over the top. Add the mint and salad leaves and gently toss. Sprinkle with feta to serve.