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the good old days

Blistered Snap Peas & Radishes with Lemon-Mint Cashew Ricotta // Delightful CrumbThe thrill of summer is palatable. I could nearly feel it vibrating in the air as I watched the eighth-turned-ninth-grade students my husband teaches march up the aisle at their graduation a couple of weeks ago. Young couples ride the train into the city in the late morning, flirting all the way, free to adventure as they please. My twin nieces are sporting sunglasses (tiny, three-year-old movie stars that they are) and brightly colored swimsuits, armed and ready for the season. A little girl comes into the coffee shop with her father, ordering blueberry coffee cake to share alongside one americano and one glass of steamed milk.

I remember that rush, of course—the sense that the season was infinite, and maybe I was as well. With summer spread out before me like endless joy, I knew what awaited. There would be sprinklers on sticky summer days and a vacation to visit our family out west; I’d attend basketball camp on dew-drenched mornings; we’d ride our bikes to get frozen yogurt on warm nights, circling through parking lots along the way. Simple as it all seems now, the whole of it felt epic. I’d like to get this piece of childhood back, to see both the big and small, vacation and sprinklers alike, as that good, that glorious.

Snap Peas & Radishes // Delightful CrumbIn the final episode of The Office, Andy Bernard reminisces on the years the show spanned—years spent behind a desk at a paper company in a sleepy town, his office mates quirky and his life neither flashy nor lucrative. He pauses for a moment, looks at the camera and says, “I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you actually left them.”

How true. I’ve done the same myself, as that carefree summertime child and many times since. Now, I look back at moments past and realize how exciting a season, how incredible an opportunity, how lovely it was to have time to be bored, that I actually looked pretty great in that dress, that I was happy.

Blistered Snap Peas & Radishes with Lemon-Mint Cashew Ricotta // Delightful CrumbBlistered Snap Peas & Radishes with Lemon-Mint Cashew Ricotta // Delightful CrumbThis year, none of my summer plans are particularly noteworthy. I hope mostly for quiet moments during stretches of busy days, a camping trip, warm summer nights, lots of fresh produce, some ice cream.

The good old days might be now. I’ll call these epic.

Blistered Snap Peas & Radishes with Lemon-Mint Cashew Ricotta // Delightful Crumb

Blistered Snap Peas & Radishes with Lemon-Mint Cashew Ricotta

Note that the cashews need to soak for several hours before you make the ricotta—at least 2 hours and up to overnight—and that this recipe will make more ricotta than you will need for this dish.

Vegan ricotta doesn’t taste quite the same as a traditional dairy-based ricotta, of course, but its flavor and texture are reminiscent. Here, I’ve added lemon and mint to punch up the flavor. I like vegan ricotta best when combined with flavorful veggies hot from the pan or oven, such as the peas and radishes used here.

Serves: 4 (with leftover ricotta)

FOR THE LEMON-MINT CASHEW RICOTTA

1 1/2 cup raw cashews

1/2 cup water, plus additional for soaking

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, plus additional

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Freshly cracked pepper, to taste

FOR THE BLISTERED SNAP PEAS & RADISHES

8 ounces sugar snap peas, ends trimmed and strings removed

6 ounces French Breakfast radishes (or other variety), ends trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise

1 teaspoon coconut or olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (less if you’re sensitive to heat)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Sea salt, to taste

Freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Soak the cashews in water to cover for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

To make the ricotta, drain the cashews and discard the soaking water. Place the cashews in a food processor along with the 1/2 cup water, nutritional yeast, lemon zest and juice, mint, salt and pepper. Process until the nuts are completely broken down and the mixture creamy. It should have a texture similar to that of traditional ricotta. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Set aside. This recipe makes more ricotta than is needed for this recipe; store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for another use.

To prepare the peas and radishes, warm a cast iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil. Once hot, add the peas and radishes, tossing to coat. Cook the vegetables, undisturbed, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until blistered and blackening on the bottom. Flip, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 3 minutes more. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and toss well. Cook for 1 minute, stirring, then remove the pan from the heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the peas and radishes hot, topped with a scoop of ricotta and additional mint to garnish.

5 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. I often find that I’m so focused on the past (the ‘good old days’) or looking forward to the future that I forget that I’m actually living in the here and now. Such a good reminder to appreciate these moments for what they are.

    Happy summer!

  2. This looks so delish!!

  3. how would it change things if we knew we were living the ‘good ‘ol days’? would we be more grateful? enjoy it more? appreciate it? i like that perspective…

  4. Your word pictures help me to see days gone by and days yet to come. Thanks for showing Jane and me the sounds, sights, smells, and tastes of the Bay area. We loved it all.

  5. Thanks for those thoughts Stacy! A little teary, but great perspective. I’m determined to cherish yesterday, enjoy today, and be hopeful regarding all my tomorrows. A toast to the good ol’ days gone by and to those yet to be experienced today and in the future. :)