Saturday morning was the first local outdoor farmers market of the season and I was ready to seek out some old favorites, and gain a little inspiration for a salad to accompany that night’s dinner. Local for me is the Wrightstown Farmers Market, about three miles from our house. It is held every Saturday, rain or shine from the first Saturday in May to the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The hours are from 9 to 1 but there was already a sizable crowd when I pulled in at 8:45.
The favorites I was looking for, some drip ground coffee from The Coffee Scoop for Sunday morning, the Guatemalan variety is exceptionally smooth. It wouldn’t be a visit without a stop to visit The Dog Bone Guy. I have to load up on cookies for our furry boys.
I love to create salads and spring is a great time to take advantage of the garden’s first offerings. I saw signs this week for local asparagus as I was driving around our area. I located several vendors offering asparagus and chose a bunch of fat purple asparagus and a leaner green bunch. The other two purchases I made for the salad were a bunch of plump red radishes and some shiitake mushrooms. Fortified with an orange cranberry scone I was ready to see what I could find in our own garden.
We have a wonderful crop of salad greens, a mesclun mix and Lollo Rosso, thanks to Joe’s hard work. Along with greens, we have spinach and miner’s lettuce, staples of early spring salads. So I picked a combination and went to work.
In winter months I usually roast asparagus but I thought that steaming would bring out the sweetness of the newly picked stalks. Next, what to do with the shiitake mushrooms? I use shiitake, both dried and fresh quite often but never raw in a salad. Was it okay to use raw shiitakes in a salad? Some quick research revealed a condition, shiitake dermatitis, that manifests in dark red blistering welts. A component in shiitakes, lentinan, breaks down with heat so this reaction only occurs when the mushrooms are raw or partially cooked. Not certain if I wanted to find out if we were one of the nine in five hundred people who react, I chose to add them to my steamer basket. The last addition, a little leftover smoked salmon. The sweetness of the asparagus combines perfectly with the smoky, saltiness of the salmon.
I made a very basic vinaigrette with some fines herbes, the perfect addition to a spring salad and garnished with some chervil flowers.
Ingredients for the Salad
- Assorted greens, 5-6 cups I used lettuces, miner’s lettuce and spinach
- 2 or 3 medium radishes
- 3 large spears of asparagus
- Fresh shiitake mushrooms
- Smoked salmon
Ingredients for Vinaigrette
- 2 T grapefruit balsamic vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
- ¼ c extra virgin olive oil
- 1 T fines herbes (combination of parsley, tarragon, chervil and chives
- Chervil flowers to garnish the salad
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Tear lettuces into bite sized pieces in a large bowl. Slice radishes thinly and add to the salad bowl.
- Cut asparagus into bite sized diagonal pieces. Discard the mushroom stems and cut the caps into thin slices. Steam the asparagus and mushrooms until tender. Mushroom caps will take about 3 minutes, thick asparagus pieces about 5-6 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels and allow to cool. Add to the salad bowl
- Break the smoked salmon into bite sized chunks and add to the salad bowl.
- Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in small bowl. Pour over the salad and toss lightly. Divide salad on two plates. Season to taste with salt and pepper.