We eat with our eyes, and when I saw the cover of the First We Eat cookbook, I was captivated. And immediately hungry. Who wouldn't be seduced by the bright gold and vermillion hues of beets, radishes, carrots and verdant herbs especially with spring upon us? It begged me to crack its spine and devour every gorgeous fresh-from-the-garden recipe. I'm hooked.
First We Eat is the latest cookbook by Eva Kosmas Flores, recipe developer, photographer, stylist, and founder of Adventures in Cooking and First We Eat, her travel-based photography workshop company. In First We Eat, she celebrates seasonal cooking with the freshest ingredients in a straightforward way. She combines her Mediterranean roots with the bounty of her Pacific Northwest garden to produce elegant dishes that wow the eye and the tantalize the palate. Her vibrant recipes are inspiring yet approachable with creative combinations that are utterly mouthwatering. The book is divided by season, each beginning with a menu, and also offers a guide to staple ingredients, homemade pantry basics, and tips for sourcing your own ingredients.
To celebrate the arrival of spring, I'm featuring a few of Eva's gorgeous springtime recipes this week, starting with a lovely Snap Pea Salad with Preserved Lemon and Goat Cheese Medallions. Be sure to get your copy of her already best-selling cookbook here and get the recipe for her Black Pepper Rack of Lamb with Red Currant and Rhubarb Glaze here!
Snap Pea Salad with Preserved Lemon and Goat Cheese Medallions
— Serves 2 to 4 —
"I am always looking to create the perfect “salad triangle,” which is how I describe a dish that has a balance of freshness (like raw veggies), fats (cheese, prosciutto, and the like), and acid (think an awesome lemon- or vinegar-based dressing). Preserved lemons are my favorite ingredient for providing that bit of acidic zing, and they do an excellent job here, with the peel being used in the salad and the juice being used in the dressing. For the fats, we have the rich goat cheese medallions, which are sliced, breaded, and fried to create a crispy exterior and a smooth and melty interior. Then you throw in the crunch and juiciness of the fresh snap peas, and you have all the makings of an excellent spring salad on your hands." ~Eva Kosmas Flores
GOAT CHEESE MEDALLIONS
1 log (4 ounces/115 g) goat cheese
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup (80 g) plain panko bread
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon flake kosher sea salt
½ teaspoon ancho chile powder
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fennel and coriander
preserved lemon juice (recipe below)
3 cups (48 g) pea shoots
1 cup (60 g) snap peas, strings
¼ cup (13 g) fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fennel
and coriander preserved lemon
rind (recipe below)
—For the goat cheese medallions, cut the goat cheese crosswise into 6 thick slices.
—Heat the canola oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. When a drop of water flicked into the pan sizzles, it is ready for frying.
—In a medium flat-bottomed shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs, garlic powder, salt, chile powder, and pepper. Put the egg in a shallow bowl.
—Take one of the slices of goat cheese and dip it in the egg, letting any excess drip back into the bowl. Dredge it in the bread crumb mixture, then place it in the skillet. Repeat with the remaining goat cheese. Fry the medallions until golden, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove using a slotted metal spatula and place on a plate lined with paper towels.
—For the salad, in a small bowl, whisk together the oil and lemon juice.
—In a large bowl, toss together the pea shoots, snap peas, mint, and lemon rind. Add the oil–lemon juice mixture and toss until evenly distributed. Transfer the salad to a serving platter, garnish with the cheese medallions, and serve.
Flavorful Preserved Lemons
Makes 3 or 4
3 or 4 organic lemons (enough to fit snugly into
a pint-size/480-ml mason jar)
Flake kosher sea salt
FENNEL AND CORIANDER
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon finely chopped fennel fronds
—Wash the lemons well. Cut them as if you’re cutting them into quarters, but stop ½ inch (12 mm) before you reach the bottom on one end so that all the quarters are still attached at the base of the lemon.
—For the fennel and coriander preserved lemons: Rub the interior of the lemons generously with the salt, ¼ teaspoon of the coriander, and a pinch of the fennel fronds and then reshape them into whole lemons. Pack 1 inch (2.5 cm) of salt, a few coriander seeds, and a pinch of fennel fronds into the bottom of a pint-size (480-ml) mason jar, place one of the lemons on it, and pack in salt and more coriander seeds and fennel fronds around the lemon, filling in any gaps between the lemon and the wall of the jar with salt. Once the salt has nearly covered the lemon, add another lemon, pack it with salt, coriander, and fennel fronds, and repeat until the jar is completely packed with lemons, salt, coriander, and fennel fronds.
—You really want to pack the lemons in there so that they’re crushing each other and releasing their juices. Seal the jar tightly and shake it for 10 seconds. Set it aside at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 3 to 4 weeks, shaking it for a few seconds once per day.
—To use, cut off the desired amount of preserved lemon and rinse it thoroughly. The rinds are wonderful finely chopped in dishes for a burst of lemon flavor and are also delicious in stews and sauces. The pulp is a great concentrated source of lemon flavor for sauces, stews, and soups as well, but make sure to take into account the saltiness of the pulp and adjust the salt content of the recipe accordingly.
Recipe and images excerpted with permission from First We Eat by Eva Kosmas Flores, published by Abrams. All Rights Reserved.