When you think of summer, what comes to mind? Along with a blessed relief from winter, the sun’s rays on my forearms, hair getting incrementally lighter between June and August, skin getting incrementally darker between June and August, reading the paper and sipping my morning matcha on the patio, The Girls enjoying their beloved swims in the pond, and basically waking up happy every day–well, along with all of that, I also think of three-bean salad.
Okay, so maybe that’s not the first thing that comes to mind for most of you when you ponder the hot season (maybe lying by the pool? BBQs? Bike rides in Central Park? Outdoor concerts? S’mores?). For me, though, that classic salad is a token of days gone by, when my grad school pal Irish Eyes would hold her annual end-of-summer party.
Irish Eyes and I met during our Masters’ degree at University of Windsor, and then, by chance, we both registered at the University of Toronto to pursue our PhDs. It was here in Toronto that we became fast friends. Even though she was 20 years my senior, IE was incredibly youthful in everything from her giddy laugh when flirting with the male grad students to the fact that she zipped around campus on a racing bicycle (with scandalous short-shorts to match), to her nearly waist-long blonde hair, to her ability to spend hours on the phone gabbing about our professors (this was before the days of cell phones or texting, you understand). Amid the sea of poseurs and pretentious professor-wannabees, IE was a breath of fresh air, and my best ally.
Every year at the end of August, IE and her husband threw a massive party for all the grad students as well as the profs who were young and/or cool enough to accept their open invitation.
IE and her hubby lived in an old stone house near High Park that had been built in the 1950s and still retained an intact bomb shelter in the basement. In their inimitable style, they decked it out with pea green walls, beanbag chairs and a shag rug. For some reason, the shelter was always the room in which we stragglers ended up in the wee hours of the morning, most likely because it was eerily quiet in there, the five-foot concrete walls engulfing any ambient noise after our night of loud music and dance.
By then, most of the crowd had gone home and IE’s two kids had put themselves to bed (I always thought that, if I’d ever had kids, I’d want them to be like IE’s children: incredibly self-possessed, they chatted amiably with the adults, took turns with us on the dancefloor, nibbled on chips and dip, and then, around 9:30 or 10:00 PM, announced, “Well, we’re going to sleep now,” and trudged up to their bedrooms to tuck themselves in. Last I heard, one was an intern at a downtown Toronto hospital, the other studying to be a criminal lawyer.).
And there, amid the vinyl record albums stacked against the open brick walls, the flickering candles on every surface, the ceiling fan and the bomb shelter-cum-1980s décor was a buffet table heaving with bowls of chips and dip, trays of raw vegetables and tzatziki, plates piled high with home-baked chocolate chip cookies, half-drunk bottles of wine and a massive bowl of IE’s signature bean salad. Everyone raved about it. It just never felt like summer without it.
Well, sad to say that IE and I lost touch a few years back. I’ve been making that bean salad ever since my grad school days, and I finally decided that this year, I’d aim for something a little different. When I spied this pea salad in my Australian Women’s Weekly New Salads cookbook, I knew I’d found my updated legume-based summer salad. Split peas offer up a good source of protein (16 g for just one cup cooked), with a delectable, subtle sweetness and delicate shape. With just a few ingredients, this salad is also incredibly easy to make.
So now, there’s a new quintessential summer salad in my life. I’ll bring it to picnics and buffets and serve it at my summer parties. I may not be able to offer my guests a bomb shelter for late-night conversation, but at least the hue of this salad spurs memories of those pea-green walls in IE’s home. I have a feeling she’d have been happy to set out a bowl of this dish on the coffee table in that erstwhile bomb shelter, too.
Oh, and don’t forget to come back and tune in to my very first Google+ Hangout on Air on Wednesday, June 26 at 9:00 PM EST (or 6:00 PM PST) with Allyson Kramer, author of Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats Around the World! We’ll be gabbing about her books, blog, the recipe development process, living vegan and gluten-free, and more!
Four Years Ago: blog break
Green and Yellow Split Pea Salad with Mustard Dressing
adapted from Australian Women’s Weekly New Salads
A great change from your usual bean salad, this is a slightly upscale take on dried legumes in a light dijon dressing. Great on its own as a side dish, or make it the basis of meal alongside another, leafy, salad and some rustic bread.
1/2 cup (100 g) dry yellow split peas
1/2 cup (100 g) dry green split peas
4 green onions, sliced
1 pint (250 g) cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup (120 ml) coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
For the dressing:
1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 Tbsp (45 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
1 Tbsp (15 ml) dijon mustard of choice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Pinch fine sea salt
5-8 drops plain liquid stevia, to your taste
Cook the peas: Let peas soak overnight in room-temperature water, then drain and rinse. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add peas. Once the water boils again, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until peas are just tender, 10-15 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and set aside.
Assemble the salad: In a medium bowl, combine the peas, onion, tomatoes and parsley. Add dressing and toss gently. Allow to sit for 10 minutes for flavors to meld, then stir gently and serve. Makes 4-6 servings. Not suitable for freezing.
Suitable for: ACD Stage 2 and beyond, sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, nut free, vegan.
Never miss a recipe–or a comment from The Girls! Click here to subscribe to RickiHeller.com via email. You’ll get recipes as soon as they’re posted, plus cookbook updates and news about upcoming events! (“We love subscribers, Mum. . . almost as much as we love treats!”)
This recipe is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday. Well Fed Wednesday, Thank Your Body Thursday
© Ricki Heller
Quick–think “summer picnic.” Or maybe even “summer BBQ.” What are the side dishes that go along with your sandwiches, burgers, or tofu dogs? I bet many of you thought of that quintessential summer fave, Three-Bean Salad (or was it that other quintessential summer fave, S’mores?).