My upbringing in Australia was unequivocally cross-cultural. Growing up in the suburbs of Sydney with Chinese parents, food was the pipeline to our heritage. My mum was a fervent cook, wowing her three hungry children with complex Cantonese flavors from her motherland. Our palates were accustomed to big flavors—stir-fried Asian greens laced with sharp fermented bean curd, steamed ‘porkcakes’ spiked with salted black beans, and hotpots that sang with salient notes of ginger and umami. With these punchy flavors as our dinnertime norm, the day my mum served steak with peas was always going to be memorable. While I still ate and appreciated meat during my early teens, it was the vibrant mound of peas that got my attention. Sure, I had eaten peas in omelettes and fried rice before, but I had never experienced peas as a side dish, so naked and unadorned. As I popped them into my mouth, each pea burst with a grassy sweetness that thrilled me. Soon, I would part ways with steak forever, but peas remain one of my ultimate comfort foods.While I enjoy peas all year round (you will always find a bag or two in my freezer for quick pantry meals), there’s sweet relief when the first peas of the season, in all their incarnations, appear. The arrival of green peas, snow peas, sugar snaps, and pea shoots signals promise and renewal, and the chance to reset our mind and our diet with a greener outlook.I usually kick off early summer by excessively gorging on peas. Sugar snaps and snow peas don’t even require cooking—snack on them raw or slice razor thin and add them to salads. And while it’s great to find pre-podded peas, there is something intensely gratifying in methodically tearing open a fresh pod and sliding out the pudgy, tender spheres. When purchasing fresh peas, choose pods that are bright green and plump, and on the smaller side—overlarge pods can house starchy peas. Make sure you don’t discard your pods – I recently discovered that the empty pea pods can be used to make veggie stock. The Venetian dish risi e bisi, a soupy rice with peas, is traditionally made with pod stock, which delivers an assertive pea flavor.This salad brings fresh flavors to the plate with confidence and swagger. Barely blanched peas mingle with pan-fried sugar snaps, snow peas, and another of my favorite spring ingredients, asparagus, which are cooked on high heat until just tender yet still crisp with the slightest hint of charring to add smokiness. I’ve chosen farro as the workhorse grain in this salad—its distinct chewy, nutty texture is substantial both to the bite and to the appetite. Salty, lemony, and herbaceous, the feta-mint dressing will likely become your summer stalwart, as it is also perfect served with grilled vegetables, folded through warm pasta, or slathered on crispy roasted potatoes.
When the evening light lingers and begs me to dine al fresco, I want something light but satisfying. I want something bursting with summer produce. I want something cool and refreshing that I can enjoy with a crisp glass of wine. Yep, I want a salad. But not just any salad, and certainly not a lame salad—which, to me, is a crime during a season ripe with so many amazing possibilities.This is the salad I make on those rare and lovely unhurried nights. It features the alluring combination of juicy peaches and even juicier tomatoes that are lightly coated in just enough dressing to moisten—so that nothing overpowers the flavors of the fruit. Hunks of creamy burrata pair beautifully here, offering luxurious richness that, again, does not compete with the fruit.The fried farro sprinkle is perhaps the best part. The grains are fantastically crunchy, like tiny Corn Nuts, with an irresistible nutty-earthy flavor. They’re quick and easy to make—especially if you start with store-bought pre-cooked farro (which I typically buy from Target). These pre-cooked grains are dry to the touch, which means they’re safe and ready to plop into hot oil. If you were to cook your own farro, you’d need to air it out for a few hours to remove all surface moisture so that the hot oil won’t pop and bubble over. (Trust me; I know this from experience.)You’ll only use half of the fried grains for this salad, but it makes sense to go ahead and fry it all up while you’re at it so you’ll have leftover crunchies to play with. They hold beautifully in an airtight container at room temperature for a week or in the freezer for three to four months. Use them on any salad, over a creamy soup, on casseroles, on pasta tosses, over scrambled eggs, and even on an ice cream sundae—basically wherever you crave a little crunch.
Ten minutes of simple prep work and an hour of hands-off marinating time deliver this almost effortless slaw that scores big in the flavor department. Matchstick carrots make it ultra-easy; just dump, stir, and go. Seasoned with a simple mixture of lemon juice, mustard seeds, and salt, this slaw lends itself a variety of uses—try it on barbecue sandwiches, tacos, and turkey or chicken burgers—or serve it as a side dish at your next barbecue or potluck.
Mast-o khiar is a refreshing yogurt salad made with cucumbers, dill, garlic and shallots. It can be served alongside everything from Persian flatbread to meats and fish. Slideshow: More Cucumber Salad Recipes
Turning boring broccoli into a flavor-packed salad is our favorite way to eat this vegetable. These recipes use fresh herbs, flavorful dressings and bright flavors to transform broccoli into a side dish your whole family will love--even the notorious broccoli haters. These salads and slaws are perfect for summer cookouts, holiday potlucks and casual family meals, and are a great way to add cheerful color and punchy flavor to your dinner table any time of year. Here, some of our easiest (and most delicious) recipes for broccoli salad.