Friday, July 4, 2014


by Sheila Connolly

I was going to give you a recipe for how to cook a weed, but that didn’t sound quite right for the Fourth of July (even though it is a native species of weed!), so you may see that one in coming weeks.

Happy Independence Day! 

Between Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, I’ve been spending a lot of time (in my head, at least) with the Revolutionary War recently. Maybe it was the early influence of Johnny Tremain (written by Esther Forbes and published in 1943; Walt Disney made a movie of it in 1957), which was required reading for my sixth grade English class, but I’ve always found the whole thing romantic—those ill-equipped farmers without uniforms or decent weapons standing up to the might of the well-trained, well-supplied British Empire in defense of their homes and livelihoods and maybe even some ideals. It’s a great story with a happy ending, isn’t it?

Back to the food. Summer has finally arrived around here, and there are parties and fireworks to watch this week (plus that annoying Hurricane Arthur), and mosquitoes to swat, so I’m going to keep it simple. Here’s a nice recipe for a salad with a few little twists.

Pea Shoot and Hazelnut Salad with Mustard-Honey Vinaigrette


1-1/2 Tblsp balsamic vinegar (flavored if you like)
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp honey
1 small shallot, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper


1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped
5 oz. baby arugula (or any other small greens you prefer)
3-4 oz. pea shoots (available in packages at your market!)
4 large radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced (the white part only)

Right up front, I’ll give you a choice: you can prepare your own hazelnuts:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spread the hazelnuts on a cookie sheet and toast until they are fragrant and the skins blister (12-15 minutes).   Transfer them to a kitchen towel and let cool slightly, then rub the nuts together vigorously to remove the skins. Chop the nuts coarsely.

Or you can just buy a package at your market--much simpler! Although the toasting is a good idea because it brings out the nuts’ flavor.

In a large bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, mustard, honey and shallot. Add the olive oil and whisk until blended. Season with salt and pepper.

Arugula--looks like oak leaves, doesn't it?
Pea greens
n another bowl, toss the arugula, pea shoots, sliced radishes, sliced fennel, and chopped hazelnuts. Add the vinaigrette and toss again to cover. Serve.

As with any salad, you can add whatever greens are fresh and available. Can’t find pea shoots? Try thin slices of sugar snap peas.

Razing the Dead involves a body (or two or three) found near the site of the Paoli Massacre, a notorious battle from the Revolutionary War, fought outside of Philadelphia. The monument shown on the cover is based on the real one, in Paoli, and is the second-oldest military monument in the country (after the one at Concord, MA, naturally).


  1. That looks so fresh and delicious, I'd like to dig in right now!
    I remember reading Johnny Tremaine in sixth grade, too. It was a favorite at the time.

    Happy Fourth everyone!

  2. This looks like spring incarnate. Well done.

  3. Sheila, that's a beautiful salad. So simple. The red of the radishes is amazing!

    Happy 4th.

    Daryl / Avery

  4. What a crunchy salad. I never know what to do with peas shoots. This sounds wonderful.

    And I love the picture of the liberty bell!


    1. I had to work to get that one lined up right (yes, I took it). Actually the Liberty Bell keeps moving around. I remember seeing it hanging out in the open (if memory serves) on a field trip when I was in grade school. Then it had a pavilion of its own close to Market Street. Then in a big overhaul a few years ago, they built a new, mostly-glass pavilion and moved it. But originally, when it was retired as a working bell, it was part of a small museum inside Independence Hall! (You might guess I spent a lot of time in Philadelphia.)