Ed. Note—The Athlete's Table is BACK! Aaron Vinten came to the Heather Jackson Tucson Dream Camp and wowed us with his food and his professionalism. Today he returns with the perfect seasonal salad that rocks. Read on the learn what he's cooked for us.
by Aaron Vinten
If you ask me, there are only a few things better than the simplicity of fruits and vegetables that have been picked and harvested at the peak of being ripe. The grocery stores often have under ripened produce picked way before they have had a chance to full mature. They may look good on the shelf, but the flavor just isn't there. It’s amazing when you actually have a chance to eat strawberries that taste like strawberries or purchase tomatoes that are a deep red color and smell like they just come from the fields. Sometimes, it’s the little things right? I think so. This is what makes farmers markets so special. You have a gathering of the best local farmers and vendors bringing you perfectly timed produce at the peak of flavor, freshness and seasonality. It’s where you find the best produce and ingredients to make all your recipes taste that much better. If you want to meet some of the best chefs in Los Angeles, just wake up early on Wednesday morning and head down to the Santa Monica Farmers market. It’s an institution for a reason.
I bring up the farmers' market because for those of you who spend your weekends working out and training, heading to the farmers' market on Saturday or Sunday morning probably isn’t very high on the priority list, if at all. There is a secret though and it goes by the code name "ICQ" or Individually Quick Frozen. Super top secret, right? All it means is that the produce you’re buying has been picked at the peak of ripeness and is quickly frozen to preserve the taste and nutritional value, often frozen within 2 hours of being picked. You can watch the process in the video below or click HERE. Frozen produce, like sweet peas, can be a lifesaver for busy athletes and families who don't have time to get to the farmers' market.
Additionally, you might just find that frozen vegetables provide a superior product than even the “fresh” produce at the grocery store (read HERE). Studies have shown almost NO nutritional loss between fresh and frozen vegetables, so don’t think twice about using the frozen stuff. It’s convenient, tastes great and remains super healthy. Not sure you believe me? Check out this New York Times article HERE. For this Spring Pea Salad, we are using frozen peas and I bet you most likely already have the rest of the ingredients in your kitchen. I had a bag of frozen peas, some leftover hard boiled eggs and some chopped bacon from earlier in the week, so this salad came together really quickly. All together, it’s a really simple recipe of blanched peas, chopped bacon, chopped hard boiled eggs, a bit of avocado mayo (regular mayo will work if that’s what you have), red onion, lemon, chopped parsley, chopped mint, red wine vinegar and some salt & pepper. Not bad, right? It’s cool, creamy and bursting with bright spring time flavor. Simply boil the peas, hard boil the eggs and crisp up some bacon and then mix it all in a bowl! So easy and so good! Plus, it gets better as it hangs out in the fridge.
STEP1: PRINT THE RECIPE
Print the EASY
recipe card and follow along with the pictures below! Click HERE
for a direct link to the recipe card!
STEP 2: GATHER YOUR INGREDIENTS
STEP 3: GET COOKING
Time to multitask in the kitchen with some basic cooking skills. Start a boiling pot of salted water going for the peas, a pot of plain cold water for the eggs and a frying pan for the bacon. RENDER YOUR BACON:
Chop the bacon into segments about 1/2 inch square and add them to a frying pan over medium(ish) heat. Let the bacon slowly render until crisp and brown. Don’t rush this step by turning the heat up too high. Burnt bacon is no good. Drain any excess fat as necessary. Remove bacon from pan and set aside on a paper towel to cool. BLANCH YOUR PEAS:
In a medium pot, bring water to a boil and add a couple tablespoons of salt. When the water comes to a boil, add your peas and get ready because they don’t take long. It will only take 2-3 minutes to cook. Taste one for doneness and remove from the hot water with a colander or slotted spoon and set aside to cool. I usually like to stick them in the freezer for about 5 minutes for a quick chill down.HARD BOIL THE EGGS:
In an appropriately sized pot filled with cold water, place your eggs on the bottom. Make sure they are in a single layer and not stacked on top of each other. Fill the pot with just enough plain COLD water to cover the eggs by about a ½ inch. Also, prepare a bowl with ice and water to cool the eggs when they are removed from the boiling water.
To cook the eggs, place the pot of eggs on the stove top and bring to a slight boil. Once the water comes to a boil, turn the heat to LOW and cover with a lid. Let the eggs finish cooking on LOW for 11 minutes and then pull the eggs from the hot water with a slotted spoon and place directly into an ice bath. Let cool for 15 minutes or until cool enough to peel. They will be perfectly cooked. Finishing out the recipe requires no more cooking, Just basic chopping skills going forward! Finish slicing your onions, chop up the herbs and get that lemon ready to zest and juice!
STEP 4: GIVE IT A MIX
Add all your ingredients to a bowl and get mixing! Taste along the way to see if you want to add a little more salt or pepper, maybe a little more red wine vinegar or just a tad bit more avocado mayo, but keep in mind this should be a light salad, not a heavy mayo based salad. That’s not what we are after!
The result should be a light, cool, and moist Spring Pea Salad.
STEP 5: EAT!!!!
This cool, creamy, and savory Spring Pea Salad is bursting with fresh spring flavor. A bright and delicious combination of green peas, high protein eggs, crispy bacon, red onion, mint, parsley, and lemon zest makes this a great addition to the table. This would make for a great vegetable side dish for some grilled lamb chops! Yum Yum. Give it a try today.