Summer is in full bloom. All year I try to convince myself that the other seasons have their merits and they do, but this is the sweet spot. It’s that moment when you just know. The earth has burst back to life and the sun casts long shadows late into the evening leaving me looking for any excuse to be outside.
It’s the time for summer salads and days spent on a lake– the only armor against the weather being lemonade and sunscreen. And last week Darya came to visit! We had all intentions to make an actual recipe and we still do, but we decided after a trip to the farmer’s market that a perfect salad would suit us just fine until next time. It started out as a typical French salad– Darya being from France and all– then we derailed into this satisfying and unique combination. We served it with some turkey sausages, rosé and whiskey. Dessert was baklava and heart-healthy chocolate ice cream–part of my heart healthy dessert experimentation.
Going to the market with Darya was the adventure I had expected. She’s willing to try anything and she indulged my questions like, “What do you think this is?” with an encouraging, “Why don’t we taste it?!” One of my favorite things about Darya’s cooking is her adventurous use of greens. When we happened upon a pile of nasturtiums, I recalled a photo she had posted on her Instagram, a salad of these strange greens. I had to look up on Wikipedia whether this was the same nasturtium as the flowers I knew and to see if they were edible. We bought a few bunches and decided this is where we would start. When I tried just one of these spicy, peppery greens, my eyes watered. We had to temper these beauties to make them palatable.
Combining them with more neutral mixed greens did the trick. We used only the leaves to keep it mild, but the next day I cut up the stems and used them too. Darya asked me to soak chickpeas overnight and to make sure I had cashews on hand for this salad. For heft and flavor we browned them both separately in a little olive oil and threw them in. To balance the bitterness of the nasturtium leaves Darya (hard at work below) cut up some sweet snap peas (at a beautiful angle) for texture. We added a chopped scallion and fresh cucumber, which lent depth to the flavor. Finishing it with a simple vinaigrette and a dab of mustard, this was one of the best green salads I’ve ever had.
What a wonderful thing it was to yield my kitchen to someone else for a bit, to watch Darya handle my knives, use my grandma’s cutting board and take inventory of my (lack of) space, pans and light. She fit right in. Having her here felt like home. She even captured me at work (below). I didn’t have to fuss –never mind the furious cleaning we did before she got there, not just a “throw it all in the closet” cleaning, but actual, belated spring cleaning. We talked and ate well into the evening, the attenuated light fading into the dim glow of streetlamps overhead and we all felt what it means to really have a guest.
I hope you’re enjoying the longer days!
SUMMER SALAD W/ CHICKPEAS, ROASTED CASHEWS & NASTURTIUMS
For the Salad:
- One bunch nasturtiums, stems removed (about a few handfuls of leaves)
- 2-3 cups neutral mixed greens of choice
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup chickpeas (soaked overnight)
- ½ cup cashews
- ½ cup snap peas, chopped
- 1 scallion, chopped
- 1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
For the Vinaigrette:
- ¼ cup oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the Salad:
Combine all of the greens in a salad bowl.
Drain the chickpeas from the water. In a medium pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium flame and add the chickpeas. Cook until brown, tossing every now and then for an even cook and color. Remove from pan when done, about 5-7 minutes. Set aside.
In the same pan, add another tablespoon of olive oil and add the cashews. Cook over medium heat until evenly browned, about 7-10 minutes. Set aside when done and let cool.
When cool, add chickpeas and cashews to the salad bowl.
For the Vinaigrette:
Combine all of the ingredients and whisk until incorporated.
Add the vinaigrette to the salad, toss it all together until well-combined.