Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A wondrously good spring crop

I'm referring to asparagus -- a marvelous spring treat. Yes, you can get it from the supermarket year-round, but spring is the time when you can get locally grown asparagus. As with so many other foods, the local version is almost like another food altogether from the crops that are shipped thousands of miles before it reaches our tables -- or our mouths.

This salad recipe calls for several ingredients that you should be able to find now from local sources. Farmers will have a variety of lettuces now, so use whatever looks most appealing. The first new potatoes ought to be gracing farm stands throughout the area. Try to get garlic shoots—a little harder to find—or substitute local or supermarket chives.

Let the growing season begin!

Recipe: Spring Salad with Asparagus, Mixed Greens and New Potatoes

Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side dish; recipe can be doubled or tripled


For the vinaigrette:

  • One-quarter cup Champagne or other white vinegar
  • One teaspoon prepared mustard
  • One tablespoon honey
  • One-third cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • One-quarter cup chopped garlic shoots, green garlic or chives (see ingredients note)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the salad:

  • One-half pound small new potatoes, unpeeled, cut into bite-size pieces and roasted or boiled until just tender
  • One-half pound asparagus, trimmed
  • One tablespoon olive oil
  • Five cups mixed spring lettuces
  • Two tablespoons chopped pecans
  • One-half cup sliced strawberries, or more to taste
  • One-quarter cup goat or feta cheese sprinkles

Ingredients note: Among the area’s early crops are garlic shoots, also called green garlic. You can’t find them in supermarkets, but only in farmers markets. You can substitute chives, if necessary.


For the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, honey and olive oil until smooth and creamy. Stir in the green shoots or chives and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

For the salad: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread the asparagus on a lightly oiled baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Roast in the hot oven for five minutes, stirring once. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Cut into bite size pieces, about two inches long.

Toss the greens with the potatoes, asparagus and pecans. Add vinaigrette to taste and toss well. Arrange on serving plates, spreading strawberries and crumbled cheese over each serving. Pass any extra dressing at the table.

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