June = peas. Peas = feta. Maybe that’s not the way you think, but my mind turns to feta every time I see the season’s first sweet English peas. That’s because one of my favorite Greek meze is the pea, feta and dill salad from Kokkari, the acclaimed San Francisco restaurant. I collaborated on the restaurant’s cookbook with chef Erik Cosselmon several years ago, and many of the Kokkari recipes entered my repertoire, but this one is probably the one I make the most. With warm pita and chilled rosé, you have the perfect first course.
If you don’t have a source for fresh English peas, check Trader Joe’s. My local store carries shelled English peas, and they are good. Kokkari serves this meze only in spring, but I’m not above using frozen petite peas when fresh peas aren’t around.
Sweet Green Peas & Feta
Erik mashes the feta with the olive oil to make a creamy dressing. I toss the peas with the oil and keep the feta in crumbles. Try it both ways. Adapted from Kokkari: Contemporary Greek Flavors by Erik Cosselmon and Janet Fletcher (Chronicle Books).
2 cups shelled English peas (about 2 pounds peas in pod)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions, including green parts
2 to 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 scant cup (about 4 ounces) crumbled Greek feta
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil over high heat and prepare a bowl of ice water. Blanch the peas for about 1 minute, just until they lose their raw taste; they should still be firm. Drain and immediately plunge into ice water. When the peas are cool but not cold, drain them again. Lay them out on a clean dishtowel and pat dry.
Put the peas in a bowl with the olive oil, scallions, dill and lemon zest. Toss gently. Add the feta and toss again gently. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6