by Diane Rossen Worthington

Justin Chapple has penned a book that I think stands out for its well-sourced pantry and simple, yet utterly delicious recipes. The photographs are vibrant and show off his food in the best possible light. I love that he has a variety of ways on how to present and make crudites.

“Just Cook It” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018) features fun chapters like “Party Food and Snacks” or “Breakfast, Brunch and Eggy Stuff,” as well as the usual courses we have come to expect from cookbooks. When I went through the book, I wanted to make dishes like Matzo Tartines, All Day Cassoulet, Roasted Carrot, Avocado Panzanella and Hot Chocolate Three Ways, to name just a few.

I like the layout of the book and how it is user-friendly, adding helpful hints like how much hands-on time each dish will require. This is a book I would be proud to give as a gift for a beginning cook or a serious home cook.

Chapple shares that he likes to have a go-to summer salad and likes to change it every year. The following is one of them. I think it may even be more delish in spring with peas, green beans and snap peas all at their peak of the season. He suggests serving it alongside grilled steaks or lamb as well as on its own as a main course. The ranch dressing is teeming with fresh herbs and a creamy mix of mayonnaise and buttermilk. This may become your go-to salad this year.

Beans and Peas in Buttermilk Ranch
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:
Kosher salt
1/2 pound haricots verts or thin green beans
1/2 pound sugar snap peas, strings removed
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas (4 ounces)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup snipped fresh chives, plus 1 tablespoon minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
Freshly ground black pepper
1 small head Boston lettuce, cored and leaves torn

DIRECTIONS:
1. Fill a medium saucepan with water, and bring to a boil over high heat; then add a generous pinch of salt.
2. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Add the haricots verts to the boiling water; cook until crisp-tender and bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the ice bath to cool.
3. Add the snap peas and peas to the boiling water, and cook until crisp-tender and bright green, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain well and transfer to the ice bath to cool. Drain the beans and peas very well and then pat dry with paper towels.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, minced chives, dill, garlic powder and onion powder. Season the ranch dressing generously with salt and pepper.
5. In a large serving bowl, toss the beans and peas with the lettuce, the snipped chives and half the ranch. Season the salad with salt and pepper. Serve right away, passing additional ranch at the table.
Advanced preparation: The cooked beans and peas can be covered with a damp paper towel and refrigerated overnight. The ranch can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to five days.


Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.