How is it that it’s almost Memorial Day already? ‘Splain it to me Lucy! When I was a kid, a week seemed like an eternity. Now, well into middle-agedom, I blink and it’s a new month. One good yawn and we’ve moved from pea shoots to picnic salads.
Speaking of which, picnic salads that is, everyone needs a good potato salad in their picnic repertoire, right? This one fits the bill. It’s sort of a potato salad a la Nicoise. No mayo, the dressing is a mustard vinaigrette; new potatoes are tossed with green beans, roasted red bell peppers, red onion, minced Kalamata olives, parsley and arugula.
Sometimes a single ingredient, a garnish, can turn a dish from meh to Wow. In the case of this cauliflower chickpea curry, that ingredient is cilantro. I’ve been meaning to experiment with a curry using cauliflower and chickpeas for months. When we finally got around to it, the result was okay, but nothing special. Frustrated, I tossed a handful of chopped cilantro into what we had made—a braise of cauliflower, chickpeas, onions, curry, and tomatoes. The ingredients that minutes before had failed to inspire were now dazzling. It’s as if the cilantro had woken everyone up and pulled them onto the dance floor.
Nothing says spring like peas and mint. My friend Kathi came over the other day and shared with me one of her favorite picnic salad recipes showcasing fresh English peas and mint. (Thanks Kathi!) Toss the shelled, blanched peas with some aromatic basmati rice, minced fresh mint leaves, a little lemon zest and juice, and a handful of raisins or currants and you have a delightful rice salad, which can double as a side for curry. Don’t like raisins? Use currants, chopped dried apricots, or leave them out entirely.