Salmon and peas is a traditional New England 4th of July dish, established by Abigail and John Adams on July 4, 1776. According to Time-Life’s American Cooking: New England, the Adams served wild Atlantic salmon and fresh peas, along with little new potatoes, which were all in season in early July in New England. The salmon was poached whole and served with an egg sauce, which is a white sauce (béchamel) with chopped hard-boiled eggs stirred in.
My Dad loves this tradition; growing up we often had salmon and peas for 4th of July. He didn’t serve a whole, poached salmon, but instead prepared salmon steaks on the grill with some version of a pea side dish. As I thought about Independence Day celebrations, I was having a hard time getting excited about salmon and peas. These days, 4th of July parties are far more likely to highlight hot dogs and hamburgers, not necessarily local or seasonal choices, but easy to prepare and sure-fire crowd-pleasers. What is in season and exciting? Strawberries and basil. I’ve combined them here with balsamic vinegar, something Italian chefs often pair with each ingredient, and added some decidedly un-Italian ingredients to create a uniquely American dish.
This is salsa very good served with fish which has been simply grilled or broiled, I prefer local hake, but cod, swordfish, or even salmon would also work. This salsa could also be served with chips or as a crostini topping with goat cheese, ricotta or fresh mozzarella.
6-8 Strawberries, cored and cut into ½” dice (about 1 Cup)
6-8 Basil leaves, cut into thin strips (chiffonade) (about ½ Cup)
2-3 Scallions, chopped
½ large or 1 small cucumber, chopped (leave skin on if using a fresh, local cucumber)
1 Fresno Chile (red jalapeno,) finely chopped
1 Tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Toss salsa ingredients together in a serving bowl.
Yield: approximately 2 Cups.