This salad tastes like early summer to me -- sweet, herbal and fresh. When you thin slice two kinds of peas and toss them with spring greens and a creamy spring onion dressing, all sorts of gentle contrasts start playing against each other. The unique taste and texture of the 65ºC egg works beautifully here, too.
This mysterious-sounding egg became the darling of French chefs awhile back as one of the experiments in modernist cuisine. But it really dates back to biblical times when eggs were baked overnight in a dying fire's embers.
There's not much to it. You put whole, unshelled eggs on the rack of an oven set at 149ºF (65ºC). Leave them to bake for 3 hours or so and then cool them. If your oven is off by a few degrees, not to worry. The baked eggs will be almost creamy yet nearly firm, with yolks like thick custard, quite unlike any egg you've tasted.
Cook the eggs up to 3 days ahead and store them in the refrigerator. Up to 3 days ahead make the dressing up to adding the fresh herbs and chill. Fold in the herbs before dressing the salad.
Dressing (makes about 2 cups):
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/3 cup cider or wine vinegar, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon coarse-ground dark mustard
- Salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
- 2/3 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise, or to taste
- 1/4 cup good-tasting extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tight-packed tablespoons each fresh basil and parsley leaves, torn
- Green tops of 5 large scallions, thin sliced
- 1/2 medium red onion, thin sliced and soaked in ice water 20 minutes
- 4 handfuls (1/3 to 1/2 pound) sugar snap peas, trimmed and strings removed
- 4 handfuls (1/4 to 1/3 pound) snow pea pods, trimmed and strings removed
- 1 medium head Bibb or Boston lettuce
- 4 tender romaine leaves
- 3 big handfuls (about 5 ounces) baby arugula or 3 big handfuls spring mix
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1. Up to 3 days ahead, bake the eggs as directed in the recipe's introduction. Refrigerate until about 30 minutes before serving. Then shell gently under cold, running water. Dry and cut each egg in half from top to bottom.
2. For the dressing combine the garlic, vinegar, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Let stand 20 minutes to mute the garlic's heat, then whisk in the remaining dressing ingredients, except the herbs. Taste for a balance between tartness and creaminess. Refrigerate until 40 minutes before serving. Then fold in the herbs.
3. Shortly before serving, make the salad by chilling the onions to get rid of their bite. Stack up the peas on a chopping board and thin slice them crossways at an angle so you have 1/16-inch wide by maybe 1-1/2-inch long shreds. Then stack the Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves and the romaine, and slice them into 1/4-inch wide ribbons.
4. In a large bowl, toss the peas and all the salad greens together. Lightly salt and pepper them as you toss. Add about 2/3 cup dressing to lightly coat the leaves. Streak each of 6 dinner plates with a few tablespoons of the dressing. Then heap the salad on each plate, tuck in two egg halves on each plate and scatter the salads with almonds. Serve quickly to have the salad in its prime.