October 9, 2017 Arugula Salad with Pears, Beets, Blue Cheese and Walnuts

The vegetable garden doesn’t end at our house just because summer is over. Joe’s new crop of salad greens, planted in the greenhouse are ready to be harvested. I typically use a variety of greens in our salad but this time I let arugula take the starring role. Nutty and just slightly peppery arugula is combined with a finely sliced Chiogga beet also courtesy of the fall garden, creamy blue cheese, walnuts and some of the Asian pear slices that I made in the last post.

Fall is a good time to get in another crop of some root crops like radishes, turnips and beets. Along with the salad greens, the root vegetables prefer cooler temperatures. This year has been tough, summer like heat and humidity has stayed around well into October (I’m not complaining) and it has affected the plantings, especially the radishes. I’ve started to harvest some beets while they are still small and sweet for salads.

I especially like the Chiogga (kee-OH-gee-uh) beet for its deep pink and white spirals, it adds a pretty pop of color to an otherwise dull salad. I like them raw, shaved as thinly as possible on a mandolin. The sweet earthy flavor contrasts nicely with the arugula. Blue cheese and toasted walnuts are always a natural with arugula. I chose a buttermilk blue that is described as tangy yet mellow. It has a creamy taste and texture and doesn’t overwhelm the other elements of the salad.

The dehydrated Asian pear slices I made in the last post are great for snacking, and for a bite of fruity sweetness in salads like this one. Dehydrating intensified the already sweet pears.The pears resemble mushroom slices so they would be quite a surprise for an unaware diner biting into one. If you didn’t make the dehydrated pear slices, substitute a thinly slice fresh Asian pear.

I dressed this salad with a simple vinaigrette using a Tubby Olive Gravenstein apple white balsamic vinegar with a good extra virgin olive oil with just a touch of walnut oil. You could substitute a white balsamic vinegar with just a touch of honey.

Arugula Salad with Pears, Beets, Blue Cheese and Walnuts

Serves two

Ingredients

  • 2 T white balsamic vinegar or Gravenstine apple balsamic
  • 1 t Dijon mustard
  • ½ t honey (not needed if using apple balsamic)
  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T walnut oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 large handfuls arugula (about 12 ounces)
  • ¼ c dried Asian pear pieces or 1  ripe pear, cored and sliced thin
  • 1 small beet, scrubbed and trimmed, sliced very thinly on a mandolin
  • 3 ounces soft blue cheese, crumbled

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, mustard, and honey. Gradually pour in the olive and walnut oils, and continue whisking  until the dressing has emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Divide the arugula between plates. Top with the beet slices, walnuts, sliced pear and blue cheese, then drizzle with vinaigrette.

 

September 7, 2017 Green Bean Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, Feta and Parsley

Whether you call them snap beans, green beans or string beans, our garden has produced a steady stream since early July. Joe plants both bush and pole beans and not just green beans. We grow purple beans that look pretty on the vine but as soon as you plunk them in a pot of boiling water, they turn a dark green color. This is due to a plant pigment, anthocyanin, that deteriorates in high temperatures. If you want to preserve the bean’s  purple color, choose a crisp young bean that doesn’t require cooking.

Yellow or wax beans also add color to the garden. According to Cook’s Illustrated, yellow beans are just green beans bred to have none of the chlorophyll pigment that gives the green bean its color.

Snap beans are low in calories, a good source of fiber and vitamins A and C. Their grassy, nutty flavor is appealing to just about everyone. In the cooler months we are most likely to do a warm preparation of beans with garlic and thyme. In the summer I like to blanch them and make a green bean salad. This combination is a creation of my own and a dish I have made countless times this summer.

I start with approximately a pound of beans. I wash and stem the beans and sort out any that are significantly fatter and or older. Bring a large pot of water that has been well salted to the boil and add the large beans first. I give them an extra minute or two to cook. Then I add the rest of the beans and start my timer at a generous four minutes. I taste (careful, it will be hot) one bean, and if I can bite through with no resistance, they are done. If not, set the timer for another minute, then taste again. Drain the beans in a colander and rinse with cool water. Spread the beans out on dish towels to let the excess moisture evaporate.

In a large bowl combine the beans, chopped parsley and tomatoes. A bite-sized cherry tomato works best here, cutting them in half makes them easier to eat. I have used different varieties over the summer. On this particular day I used a white cherry tomato. They aren’t really white but a very pale yellow. Toss the ingredients with the vinegar and oil. Next add the feta and tamari almonds. My preference is French feta, it is milder (less salty) in flavor and creamier in texture. Tamari almonds bring a umami flavor and a pleasant crunch. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, leftovers taste great the next day.

Green Bean Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, Feta and Parsley

Serves four

Ingredients

  • 1 lb green beans, washed, stemmed and trimmed into 2-3 inch pieces, can be wax or purple beans also
  • 15-20 small tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 c finely chopped parsley
  • 1/3 c crumbled feta (I prefer French feta in this salad)
  • 1/3 c tamari almonds
  • 3 T grapefruit or another light balsamic vinegar
  • 6 T olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the beans, bring back to the boil and turn back the heat to a simmer and cook beans for 4 ½ minutes. Test one bean to be sure they are tender. Drain in a colander and rinse with cool water.
  2. In a bowl large enough to toss the ingredients comfortably, add the beans, tomatoes and chopped parsley. Toss with the oil and vinegar. Add feta and tamari almonds and toss again.  Season well with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

August 11, 2017 Green Beans and Cucumbers with Miso Dressing

I couldn’t bear to do it, smash the cucumbers and green beans as called for in this recipe that is. This very easy and flavorful dish from the June issue of Bon Appetit uses a technique popular in many Asian countries. Smashing the cukes and beans with a cleaver or a rolling pin tenderizes them and makes lots of nooks and crannies for the dressing to permeate. But not with the first green beans and cucumbers from the garden this season. Maybe in a week or two but for now I will use a more traditional approach. This recipe is quite similar to pau huang gua, a Sichuan cucumber salad, typically served with rich spicy food.

Start the recipe by peeling the cucumber, I like to leave a small strip of skin for color contrast. Chop into bite sized pieces and toss with a little salt to draw out excess moisture. The beans were an interesting addition, the original recipe in Bon Appetit didn’t call for cooking them, I presume they thought dressing them would do the job of tenderizing them. I chose to blanch the beans for just a few minutes to make them crisp-tender and ready to absorb the dressing.

The dressing couldn’t be easier, the ginger, garlic and serrano pepper are all grated, a Microplane makes quick work of that. Combine these ingredients with white miso, rice vinegar, olive and sesame oil. Miso is a fermented soybean paste traditionally used in Japanese cooking. White miso will provide a more delicate flavor, switch in a red miso for a stronger and saltier flavor. You will find miso in the refrigerated section of Asian grocery and health food stores.

Place the well-drained cucumbers and green beans in a bowl and toss with some of the dressing, just enough to coat the vegetables. You will have more than enough, which is a good thing. Toss sautéed eggplant and zucchini with halved cherry tomatoes with the dressing for another version of this dish.

Cucumber vines in the greenhouse, circa 2015.
Joe is growing both bush and pole beans.

Green Beans and Cucumbers with Miso Dressing

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 Persian cucumbers or 1 English hothouse cucumber
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb green beans, stems trimmed
  • 1 1½ piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 serrano or Fresno chile, finely grated
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1/3 c unseasoned rice vinegar
  • ¼ c white miso
  • ¼ c olive oil
  • ½ t toasted sesame oil
  • Toasted sesame seeds and scallions or thinly sliced shallots for serving

Directions

  1. Peel cucumbers and chop into bite-sized pieces. Toss with a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Let sit to allow salt to penetrate.
  2. Bring a medium sized pan of water to a boil with a pinch of salt. Add beans and cook until just tender, 3-4 minutes. Drain beans in a colander.
  3. Whisk ginger, chile, garlic, vinegar, miso, olive and sesame oils in a medium bowl until smooth.
  4. Transfer the beans to a bowl for serving and toss with the dressing. Drain cucumbers well and add to the bowl, toss again. Top beans and cucumbers with toasted sesame seeds and scallions.
Toss cucumber chunks with a pinch of salt to extract excess water.
The beans I used were just picked, blanching them for a few minutes tenderizes them and brings out their flavor.
The original recipe used scallions, I used shallots from our garden.

 

July 15, 2017 Tomato Salads

This is a space to record Joe’s creative tomato salads throughout the summer. The pictures won’t always be the best since they are taken in the kitchen. Just a way to commemorate these wonderful salads.

July 10 salad – Sun Gold, Gold Nugget and Super Sweet tomatoes, raspberries, purple basil, mozzarella with peach vinegar and blood orange olive oil.

July 12 – Sun Gold tomatoes, ricotta and purple basil with peach vinegar and blood orange olive oil.

July 15 – Super Sweet 100’s, Sun Gold, Gold Nugget, Snow Cherry, Chocolate Cherry, Fourth of July, mozzarella, purple basil, raspberries, blueberries, Cascadian raspberry vinegar, Persian lime oil.

July 16 – Brandywine, Sun Gold, Super Sweet, Gold Nugget, Snow Cherry, Chocolate Cherry, purple basil, mozzarella, ricotta, Parmesan, purple basil, Cascadian raspberry vinegar, Persian lime oil.

July 17 – Fourth of July, Gold Nugget, Snow Cherry, Super Sweet, burrata, Persian cucumbers, purple basil, Cascadian raspberry vinegar, Persian lime oil.

August 14

August 16

August 17

June 4, 2017 Arugula and Snow Pea Shoot Salad

I am pleased to say that the weather this spring  has cooperated with Joe’s spring plantings. Many years spring  has brought just a little cool weather followed by a blast of 90 degree plus temperatures that we never recover from. We have had our share of rain, but only one heat wave ( 3 consecutive days of 90° heat)  in May.

The cool, occasionally rainy weather makes for plump healthy radishes, too much heat and they become tough, pithy and hot. This week I picked the first harvest of beautiful crimson red, pink, purple and white Easter Egg radishes. Joe does consecutive plantings of quick-growing crops like radishes, arugula and salad greens so that they aren’t all ready to harvest at once.

Peas are one of the first seeds we plant in the garden, not just for the edible pods, we also reserve one section to harvest for the shoots alone. The round leaves and wispy tips are reminiscent of a green butterfly. To harvest I pinch off the tender tips, the top several leaves and the tendril that ends the vine, in turn they will send out new growth for the next harvest in several days.

This salad combines the best of spring, spicy arugula, snow pea shoots, crunchy sweet radishes from our garden and kohlrabi from the local farmers market. I accented the salad with some toasted hazelnuts and creamy French feta. For this vinaigrette I combined champagne vinegar, Dijon mustard, shallot, a touch of honey and extra virgin olive oil. When making a salad be sure to use a bowl that gives you plenty of room to toss your ingredients. I start by tossing the greens with dressing to coat them lightly, then I add some of the other ingredients and toss again. I leave the rest to top the salad with, this ensures that the last person who is served doesn’t get all the heavier ingredients that end up in the bottom of the bowl.

A cool spring makes for nice plump radishes.
Mature arugula
More arugula, but not as mature.
Snow pea shoots

Arugula and Snow Pea Shoot Salad

Serves two

Ingredients for the Salad

  • 4 c snow pea shoots
  • 4 c arugula
  • 4-5 medium radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 c kohlrabi, peeled and cut into matchstick julienne
  • ¼ c toasted hazelnuts
  • 1/3 c crumbled French feta

Ingredients for the Vinaigrette

  • 2 t champagne vinegar
  • ½ t honey (more to taste)
  • ¼ t Dijon mustard
  • ½ t finely chopped shallot
  • ¼ c extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

  1. To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until evenly combined. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper.
  2. Place the arugula and snow pea shoots in a large bowl and toss with some of the vinaigrette and taste. Add about half of the other ingredients, toss again, adding more of the dressing if necessary. Top the salad with the remaining ingredients. Season each portion to taste with freshly ground black pepper.

 

May 17, 2017 Spinach and Butternut Squash Salad

Spinach and butternut squash salad certainly isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a spring dish, but right now it makes perfect sense to me. I still have a few squash to use from last fall’s harvest and spinach plants that still have some nice leaves to offer before they go to seed.

Begin the recipe with a medium-sized squash, 2 to 2 ½ lbs, using a sharp knife, cut off a half-inch piece at the stem and base ends. Cut the squash in half where the neck meets the bulb. I find it easiest to use my Kuhn Rikon peeler to remove not only the skin but also the white flesh and green fibers below the surface, the peeled squash should be completely orange. Scoop out the seeds, I like to toast mine for snacking and can also be used to garnish salads and soups. Cut the squash into 1 inch cubes, they will shrink during the roasting process. Toss the cubes with olive oil and spread them out evenly on a lined baking sheet and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

While the squash cubes are roasting, make the warm bacon dressing. Fry four slices of bacon in a large skillet until crispy. Place the cooked bacon on a paper towel lined plated to drain. Pour off the bacon fat into a metal bowl, the hot oil might melt a plastic bowl.  In the residual fat that is left in the skillet, saute a medium chopped shallot until soft. Stir in the other dressing ingredients along with some of the warm bacon fat, keep over very low heat.

Place the spinach leaves in a large bowl and toss with the warm dressing. I prefer to place the other ingredients on top of the individual salads rather than tossed with the spinach, since they are heavier and inevitably sink to the bottom. Rather than the traditional fall version of this salad that would include dried cranberries or pomegranate arils, I added some thin strips of roasted pepper. I used toasted pecan halves, some creamy feta, and some of the bacon crumbled on top to complete the salad. Make it your own with toasted walnuts or butternut squash seeds and crumbled Roquefort instead of the feta.

 

Spinach and Butternut Squash Salad

Serves two

Ingredients for the Salad

  • 5-6 cups of spinach
  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 T or more of extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ c toasted pecan halves
  • ¼ c roasted red pepper slivers
  • 1/3 c crumbled feta
Spinach that is going to seed but perfectly good enough for a salad.
Peeled whole butternut squash.

Ingredients for the Dressing

  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1 medium shallot
  • ¼ c apple cider vinegar
  • 1 t Dijon mustard
  • 1 T or more honey
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions for the Salad and Dressing

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F convection or 425°F standard. Line a large baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil.
  2. Peel and seed the squash, cut it into 1 inch cubes. In a large bowl toss the squash with olive oil and place evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until golden brown, about 20 minutes, at the halfway point carefully move the cubes around on the sheet to ensure even browning. Set cubes aside to cool. You will have enough for several days worth of salads.
  3. In a large frying pan, cook bacon over medium high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and pour the bacon fat into a small metal bowl.
  4. Cook the shallot in the same pan until soft, 4 minutes. Stir in vinegar, mustard and honey and mix well. Whisk in two tablespoons of the bacon fat and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Place the spinach leaves in a large bowl and toss with the warm dressing. Divide the salad onto two plates. Top each with about a half cup of butternut squash cubes, pecan halves, pepper strips, feta and some of the crumbled bacon. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper.

May 11, 2017 Spring Salad

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.

Spring Salad

Serves two

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

Directions

  1. Tear lettuces into bite sized pieces in a large bowl. Slice radishes thinly and add to the salad bowl.
  2. 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
  3. Break the smoked salmon into bite sized chunks and add to the salad bowl.
  4. 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.

 

 

April 19, 2017 Avocado and Cabbage Slaw

Suvir Saran’s first restaurant, Devi was awarded a coveted Michelin star for his critically acclaimed Indian cuisine. He closed Devi in 2012, and more recently opened Tapestry, in May of 2016. The cuisine at Tapestry had a more global focus interpreted with an Indian viewpoint. Unfortunately Tapestry closed in March of this year after being open for only ten months in spite of positive reviews. The problem according to Mr Saran was “high rents and low covers”. I never had the opportunity to visit the restaurant, but Food and Wine magazine provided a recipe from Tapestry for Avocado and Cabbage Slaw in their January issue.

What gives this slaw its unique flavor is the addition of chaat masala. It is a sand colored spice blend, predominately flavored with dried mango powder, also known as amchoor, black salt and asefetida. It is a traditional accompaniment to a fruit snack, often sold by street vendors, phal-ki-chaat, four or five fruit selections sprinkled with fresh lime juice and chaat masala.

The avocado and cabbage slaw is a reimagining of the traditional snack. This time, crunchy colorful cabbage, creamy avocados and juicy tomatoes take the place of the fruit. Chaat masala is part of the dressing that includes lime juice, honey, fresh ginger, fish sauce, spicy sriracha, cilantro and mint. You could make your own chaat masala, some of the ingredients, cumin and coriander seed are accessible in any supermarket, others, dried mango, asafoetida powder, would require an online trip to an Indian grocer. I purchased my chaat masala on Amazon. It has a very pleasant light spicy fragrance and includes thirteen spices.

We enjoyed the salad, the chaat masala made it unique but never having the original dish I think we were at a disadvantage. I will have to try the fruit salad to make a comparison.

Avocado and Cabbage Slaw

Serves six

Ingredients

  • 3 T fresh lime juice
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 T peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 t sriracha
  • 2 t Asian fish sauce
  • 1 t white wine vinegar
  • ¾ t chaat masala
  • ¼ t ground cumin
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lb green and/or red cabbage, cored and finely shredded
  • 6 scallion, light green and white parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • ½ c cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • ¼ c mint leaves finely chopped
  • 2 Hass avocadoes-peeled, pitted, and diced, plus more for serving
  • 1 c roasted, salted cashews, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • Microgreens for garnish

Directions

  1. In a large bowl whisk the first eight ingredients until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the cabbage, scallions, tomatoes, chopped cilantro and mint, diced avocado and 1 cup of chopped cashews. Toss to coat. Garnish with avocado slices, chopped cashews and microgreens.

February 28, 2017 Roasted Broccoli Salad with Tahini Lemon Dressing

 

Broccoli is an all season favorite that usually has a place of prominence at the front of the produce aisle. I love to roast broccoli toss it with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. It’s so good we’re lucky it makes it to the dinner table. This time I used a little restraint and combined it with some roasted chickpeas, cilantro leaves and sun-dried tomatoes. A tahini dressing brings it all together and makes a wonderful winter side dish. If you don’t like cilantro, substitute flat leafed parsley.

Roasted Broccoli Salad with Tahini Lemon Dressing

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1¼ to 1½ lbs broccoli crowns
  • 2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 T tahini
  • 1 ½ T lemon juice
  • 2 t balsamic vinegar (white preferably)
  • 1 t tamari
  • 1 t honey
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 c chickpeas
  • 1 c cilantro leaves
  • 2 T finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the broccoli into florets, including some of the stem. Place broccoli in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Move the broccoli to a baking sheet and place in an even layer.
  2. Roast until the broccoli is nicely browned, stirring and flipping the pieces occasionally, check after 5 minutes. Roasting will take about 15 minutes total. Leave oven on.
  3. While the broccoli is roasting, combine the dressing ingredients, tahini, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, tamari, honey, chopped garlic in a small bowl. Stir to combine and add a little water if needed to thin the dressing.
  4. Drain and rinse a can of chickpeas. Place them on clean cloth kitchen towel or paper towels to dry and roll gently to remove skin. Place chickpeas on the same baking sheet that the broccoli was on and roast until they turn golden brown in spots. Roll the chickpeas around on the sheet during the baking time to ensure even browning.
  5. In a large bowl place the roasted broccoli, chickpeas, cilantro leaves and sun-dried tomatoes. Toss gently. Drizzle dressing on individual portions and serve immediately.

February 26, 2017 Brussels Sprouts Salad with Lemon Caper Dressing and Asiago Cheese

The last two days have brought us very pleasant but unseasonable temperatures in the seventies. While opening a window to let some fresh air in I spotted two pansy “volunteers” that had sprung up close to the house but not in an area where we normally plant anything. On a walk down to the garden I spotted the first dandelion. An early spring? Looks like even though the temperatures are going back into the forties by this evening. A few days of warmth is not enough to show evidence of new life in the garden. There are some beet greens and radicchio under a cold frame and I will take it on Joe’s word that there is miners lettuce and some kale in the greenhouse. I did see a bit of green in the circle garden, the beginning of the rebirth of the Chinese chives. In a month or two we will be pulling them out by the bucketfuls but for now it’s nice to see that first poke of green, letting us know that spring isn’t that far off. Until then my produce is from the local supermarkets and club stores.

This Brussels sprouts salad is simple and delicious with a satisfying crunchy texture. The sprouts can be sliced in no time in the food processor, I used a 2 mm (thin) slicing disk or with a mandoline; trust me use the guard. If you want to work on your knife skills, slice them by hand. The dressing couldn’t be simpler, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and capers. If you always wondered what those little green things are, capers are the unopened flower buds of Capparis spinosa, a prickly perennial shrub like bush, native to the Mediterranean and some parts of Asia. The buds are harvested, dried in the sun and then pickled in vinegar, brine or salt. The size of a caper can be as small as a green peppercorn, and as large as a small olive. The largest ones are usually served as part of an antipasto platter, the small ones are referred to as non pareils (French for without equal), the size best suited for this recipe. Many recipes call for rinsing them first but I would say taste them and decide for yourself. Rough chop the capers and add them to the dressing. Shredded Asiago cheese compliments the salad with it’s creamy nutty flavor. Finish the salad off with toasted slivered almonds and garnish with thinly sliced scallions. Leftovers are even better the next day.

Brussels Sprouts Salad with Lemon Caper Dressing and Asiago Cheese

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts, core ends trimmed. damaged outer leaves removed
  • ½ c extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ c lemon juice
  • 1 t lemon zest
  • ¼ c capers, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ¼ t kosher salt or more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 c Asiago cheese
  • ½ c toasted slivered almonds
  • 2-3 scallions, sliced thinly on the diagonal

Directions

  1. Shred the Brussels sprouts using the slicing disc of a food processor.  You can also slice them by hand with a well sharpened knife or a mandoline slicer. Place shredded sprouts in a bowl large enough to toss them in.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, capers, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour about two thirds of the dressing over the sprouts and toss. Add the toasted almonds and Asiago cheese and toss again. Taste and add more salt if needed and additional dressing if needed. Garnish with chopped scallions and serve immediately.
Add shredded Brussels sprouts to a large bowl and toss with dressing and other ingredients.

Pansies that came up in February.
The first new growth of garlic chives. My garnish for the next Brussels sprout salad.