Sugar Snap Peas with Pickled Rhubarb + Almond Milk Vinaigrette

By George Sabatino

Authors Notes

This is a cold & refreshing vegetable salad I look forward to making each spring. Pickling rhubarb is a great way to preserve the season, it will take on any flavors you may want to add to the brine. Everything else in the dish is about contrasting textures- creamy dressing, crisp radish, crunchy almond. Torn herbs and lemon at the end lighten things up and add brightness. Serve as an appetizer or as an accompaniment to grilled steak, chicken, fish or as part of a larger vegetarian spread.

Serves 2-4 as an appetizer or side dish.

Ingredients

For the pickles:

1 ½ cups rice wine vinegar (can substitute any other light vinegar)

1 ½  cups water

½ cup sugar

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 ea garlic clove, smashed (optional)

1 pinch red chili flake OR sliced habanero (optional)

2 ea rhubarb stalks

2 pinches sugar

1 pinch kosher salt

For the dressing:

¼  cup almond milk, unsweetened 

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

1 pinch red chili flake 

½ teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 clove garlic, hard end removed, sliced

1 cup neutral oil (canola, vegetable, safflower)

For the salad:

8 ounce sugar snap peas, trimmed

2 ea radish, sliced thin OR cut into ⅛ wedges, shocked in ice water 

8 ea mint leaves

12 ea parsley leaves

1 ea lemon

2 tablespoons almonds, toasted, cooled, chopped

As needed EVOO, for finishing

Method + Assembly

Pickle Method:

  1. For the brine- combine vinegar, water, ½ cup sugar and 2 tablespoons kosher salt, garlic, chili  in a mixing bowl or pot. Whisk well and allow to sit for 20 minutes until sugar is dissolved-stirring every now and again to help the process along. 
  2. In the meantime, slice the rhubarb into ½” pieces (follow your heart on wether they are straight or bias) and add to a separate mixing bowl with 2 pinches sugar and 1 pinch of salt. Allow to sit for 10 minutes at room temperature. (This step will ensure crisp textured pickles so please don’t skip it.) 
  3. Rinse the rhubarb well under very cold water, drain well, place in a plastic container. Give the brine one more stir then pour over the rhubarb until fully submerged. Allow to sit in brine for 1 hour before using. The pickled rhubarb will stay good in the fridge for up to forever. Save any excess brine for other recipes this season!

  Dressing Method:

  1. Combine all ingredients except for oil in the top of a blender and spin on high until mixed well. Turn the speed down to medium and SLOWLY drizzle in the oil in a steady stream to create an emulsification.  
  2. Once all the oil is added, taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  3. This will make more than you need for the recipe but is delicious on salads and will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, if covered tightly.

Snap Peas Method:

  1. Set a large pot of water on the high heat, salt it heavily using kosher salt. It should taste like the ocean. Set up a bowl of ice water and place a colander in the sink, make sure the sink is clean first though.
  2. Slice the snap peas in half on a bias (or however you’d like). Once the water is at a rapid boil add the peas and blanch for 40 seconds, drain in the colander, add directly to ice water and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
  3. Drain well and pat the blanched peas dry using paper towels.

Assembly:

  1. Choose a large flat serving platter that you enjoy. This is a family style situation.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the snap peas, radish, herbs and dress to your liking with the almond milk vinaigrette. Add a good pinch of kosher salt, mix well, taste then adjust seasoning if needed.
  3. Place a little more vinaigrette on the serving platter then transfer the pea salad right on top.
  4. Place pickled rhubarb pieces all around.
  5. Zest the lemon on top, drizzle the platter with EVOO and sprinkle with toasted almonds.
  6. Serve immediately.

George Sabatino is a Philadelphia chef who is dedicating his career to developing vegetable focused dishes, with special attention to sourcing locally and treating all ingredients (and their journeys from farm to table) with respect and purpose.