½ cup (75g) fresh peas (or frozen works fine)
3 heads little gem lettuce (or other crisp lettuce such as cos or iceberg), leaves separated
1 small head fennel, thinly sliced on a mandolin (or with a very sharp knife)
scant ½ cup (100g) sour cream
scant ½ cup (100ml) buttermilk
40ml mayonnaise, preferably homemade (see recipe)
juice of ½ lemon, about 40ml
3 tablespoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped dill
1 garlic clove, grated on a microplane
1 small French shallot, finely diced
fine sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper
GOOD MAYONNAISE makes 1½ (355g)
1 whole egg (see note)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
20ml white wine vinegar
1 cup (250ml) neutral oil (see note)

A good, creamy herb dressing paired with crisp, cold, crunchy salad leaves is one of my favourite combinations – an American steakhouse staple typically known as a “wedge” salad, using a wedge of iceberg lettuce with a dressing of either ranch or blue cheese. I like to think mine is a little lighter: heavy on the fresh herbs and omitting the blue cheese for something that complements the delicate spring vegetables better. The mixture of sour cream and mayonnaise ensures you have something that feels light on the tongue but rich enough to coat the leaves. For a truly American experience, add chopped crisp bacon, tomatoes and crumbled blue cheese in place of the peas and fennel.

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2.Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and blanch your fresh peas for about 3 minutes.
3.Strain and shock them in an ice bath as soon as they come out.
4.If using frozen peas, simply thaw them before using (see note).
5.Wash your lettuce and dry it well, either using a salad spinner or laying the washed leaves out on clean tea towels and carefully wrapping them.
6.To make the dressing, add all the ingredients (except for salt and pepper) to a small bowl and whisk to combine.
7.Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
8.To serve, arrange the lettuce leaves on a large platter and top with the peas and sliced fennel.
9.Finish by drizzling as much of the dressing as you like over the salad.
10.Keep any excess dressing in the fridge for other uses (see serving suggestion).
12.Add the egg, mustard, salt and vinegar to the bowl of a small food processor.
13.Blend these together for 30 seconds until well combined.
14.With the machine running, slowly stream the oil through the opening in the lid of the food processor until all the oil is used up and a mayonnaise has formed.
15.Store the mayonnaise in a clean glass jar in the fridge and use within a week.

Images and text from
Recipes for a Lifetime of
Beautiful Cooking by Danielle
Alvarez with Libby Travers,
photography by Alan Benson.
Murdoch Books RRP $55.