With each and every passing day we're just a little bit closer to spring. I know I can't wait to find delicate green vegetables at the market any time now. I just came back from a trip to San Francisco and as always, whenever I visit a city, I make sure to stop by the local farmers' market. I was so impressed to see that on the West coast they already have bright green asparagus, among many other spring vegetables. Asparagus is really the harbinger of spring. Just like those early crocuses, asparagus bursts out of the ground with an eagerness to embrace spring.
Here on the east coast, our spring vegetables haven't yet sprung, but we do have asparagus from California. I couldn't help myself when I found a bunch of beautiful pencil-thin asparagus at the supermarket just the other day. I was inspired by the many wonderful salads I had on my trip to create a recipe of my own that encapsulates the season of renewal. This salad include crispy snow peas, peppery radishes, baby lettuces, and chopped eggs, which are symbolic of the Easter holiday to come.
Start the recipe by blanching the asparagus and snow peas. This step brings out their brighter green color and makes them more tender. I like to chop half the asparagus and slice half the snow peas for the salad. The remaining whole stalks and pea pods are perfect for garnishing. The lemon vinaigrette adds a sharp wintry note and features minced shallot, which has been mellowed from a soak in vinegar. This salad would make a great appetizer before a spring-themed dinner party, especially for an Easter celebration. Add some chopped boiled ham and make it a main dish for lunch or a light dinner.
3/4 pound thin asparagus, tough stalks trimmed
6 ounces snow peas, ends trimmed
6 ounces mixed baby lettuces
4 ounces radishes, thinly sliced
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and blanch for 1-1/2 minutes. Add to a bowl of iced water. Blanch snow peas for 1/2 minute and remove to iced water. Drain. Lay vegetables on kitchen towels to dry.
Slice half the asparagus at an angle and add to a large mixing bowl. Slice half the snow peas into thin julienne and add to bowl. Add lettuces and radishes. Save whole asparagus stalks and whole snow peas for topping.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, macerate shallot with vinegar for a few minutes until color has been extracted. Drain off most of the vinegar. Add oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.
Pour vinaigrette over bowl with vegetables. Toss gently to coat. Season salad with salt and pepper. Divide among plates or lay out onto a platter. Top with chopped eggs and whole asparagus stalks and whole snow peas. Serve immediately.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 appetizer servings
Spring Salad with Asparagus and Snow Peas