While I was recently in the Chicago-area, I ate with my family at the idiotically named White Chocolate Grill. While it won’t surprise you to learn that this restaurant was part of a chain (albeit a small one) because we can all imagine the conversation that went on among the branding consultants who came up with this name, it may surprise you to learn that I loved the food — and even came away determined to try to recreate their sugar snap pea salad.
Before bothering with reverse engineering, I figured in this world of social media it would be simple enough to put a comment on their blog (also on WordPress, as it happened) and compliment them on the dish and ask for the ingredients in the creamy vinaigrette that brought out the bright flavor of these lovely peas. No go. The response I got was that their recipes are a secret! Oh ho! A challenge!
When I was small, my mother used to make a salad with artichoke hearts and fresh dill in a creamy dressing as a starter at fancy dinner parties. Those were the days of Julia Child-inspired dinners that could go on for hours and clog hearts. I’ve known the secret recipe to that salad my whole life, so it was no sweat to browse the dressing recipes that WCG did post on their blog and figure out how to replicate it — at least to my own satisfaction.
Here’s what I came up with — and it was fantastic! If you don’t believe me, you can ask Wichita Sims. Her favorite Italian fizzy water is in the photo because she’s right on the other side of the table.
Of course, since it’s me, this dressing is also lactose-free, which I can guarantee you my Mom’s wasn’t, nor was the one I ate in Chicago.
Sugar Snap Pea Salad with a Creamy Vinaigrette Dressing (no dairy)
2 cups cleaned and snipped fresh sugar snap peas (by snipped, I mean that their stems are trimmed off)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sour cream (I use Tofutti Sour Supreme)
1 tablespoon dill (fresh, chopped if you can get it)
3 teaspoons terragon
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds
Steam the sugar snap peas for about 3 minutes (more or less — depending how crunchy you like them).
Combine vinegar with salt and pepper and then add creamy ingredients and herbs, stirring well (my Mom used to do this part in a blender).
Toss salad with dressing and sunflower seeds right before serving. Peas can be steamed the night before and chilled until ready to dress.
QUICK UPDATE: Made this dressing for a butter lettuce salad today and substituted fresh, Meyer lemon juice for the vinegar. Now I’m torn which is the better acid! It was really fresh tasting with the lemon juice — and I’m not just saying that because the lemons were from our wonderful, old family lemon tree that is pushing 100.