Farmers’ Market Finds Make for Spring Salad Perfection
When it comes to preparing the perfect spring salad, there’s no better place to start than your local farmers’ market. There you’ll find an abundance of lettuces, spring peas, green beans, apricots, artichokes, asparagus, fennel, radishes, cherries, mangoes, rhubarb, strawberries, Swiss chard, and zucchini in season. Popular herbs include basil, chives, cilantro, dill, mint, rosemary, sage, tarragon, sweet marjoram and thyme. Here are a few recipes you can assemble with herbs and produce that you can enjoy hand-selecting from your favorite local growers.
Green Bean Salad with Radishes and Prosciutto
This recipe calls for aged sherry (instead of vinegar), which gives the dressing an added kick. The Italian meat and ricotta are available at supermarkets and specialty foods stores such as Tino’s Italian Grocery or Nona’s Italian Deli.
Yield: 6 servings
1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed
8 radishes, sliced paper-thin
1 3-ounce package thinly sliced prosciutto, cut crosswise into thin strips
3 tablespoons aged Sherry
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh chives, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 2-to 3-ounce wedge ricotta salata (salted dry ricotta cheese)
1. Cook beans in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
Drain well; cool.
2. Toss beans, radishes and prosciutto in a large bowl.
3. Whisk sherry, mustard and chives in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil.
Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Toss salad with enough dressing to coat. Using vegetable peeler,
shave ricotta salata in thin strips over salad.
Blood Orange, Beet, and Fennel Salad
Fennel is at its peak from fall to early spring but is available year around. Once sliced, the bulb can be eaten raw or cooked. It has a faint flavor of licorice or anise adding a new dimension to your meal. The frond is edible and can be used to garnish your dish. Zesty and refreshing, this fresh take on the classic Moroccan salad pairs shaved fennel and red onion with assorted beets and oranges for color contrast.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
2 medium red beets, tops trimmed
2 medium golden beets, tops trimmed
3 blood oranges
1 medium navel orange (preferably Cara Cara)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 small fennel bulb, very thinly sliced crosswise on a mandoline
1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced on a mandoline (about 1/3 cup)
Good-quality extra-virgin olive, pumpkin seed, or walnut oil, for drizzling
Coarse sea salt, such as Maldon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro and/or chervil leaves
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Wash beets, leaving some water on skins. Wrap individually in foil; place on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until beets are tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. Let cool.
2. Meanwhile, using a sharp knife, cut peel and white pith from oranges, discard. Working over a medium bowl, cut between membranes of 2 blood oranges to release segments into the bowl; squeeze juice from membranes into bowl and discard membranes. Slice remaining blood orange and Cara Cara orange crosswise into thin rounds. Place sliced oranges in a bowl with the segments. Add lemon juice and lime juice.
3. Peel cooled beets. Slice 2 beets crosswise into thin rounds. Cut the remaining 2 beets into wedges. Strain citrus juices; reserve. Layer beets and oranges on plates, dividing evenly. Arrange fennel and onion over beets. Spoon reserved citrus juices over, then drizzle salad generously with oil. Season to taste with coarse sea salt and pepper.
4. Let salad stand for 5 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Garnish with cilantro leaves.
From the Kitchen Bookshelf
What’s For Dinner? by Curtis Stone, Penguin Random House, 2013
Melbourne native Curtis Stone honed his skills in London at Café Royal, under legendary three-star Michelin chef Marco Pierre White. He also worked at Mirabelle and the revered Quo Vadis before authoring five cookbooks including Good Food, Good Life and Relaxed Cooking, and hosting Top Chef Masters on Bravo. His latest tome What’s for Dinner? is a creative approach to fresh and fuss-free dinners to share with family and friends any day of the week. Stone’s Blood Orange, Beet, and Fennel Salad (see the recipe in this column) is one of my favorites.
Spring Crudo with Fresh Herbs
Crudo is a popular item on chef’s menus for spring because of its fresh flavor and versatility. Crudo, the Italian word for “raw,” refers to a dish of uncooked stuff — usually fish, shellfish, or meat — dressed in a seasoning, such as olive oil, citrus juice, and/or a vinaigrette. Top it with fresh herbs, citrus, avocado, and peppers. The possibilities and combinations are endless, and the end result is always delicious. Making it at home is a cinch. You can find some of the best fish and seafood selections on the California coast at Santa Barbara Fish Market, where I go for culinary inspiration. My weekend shopping list usually consists of anchovies (which I serve on crostini with olive oil, lemon, parsley, and a dash of red pepper flakes), thin sliced albacore tuna (for salads), mussels, clams, shrimp, and scallops (for seafood pasta). On any given Saturday at 7:30 am you might overhear a customer (sometimes a local chef) discussing ingredients and preparation with one of the fishmongers and then suddenly you’ve been inspired to try something completely new in your kitchen. Knowledgeable and friendly, the staff is always ready to offer suggestions on how to prepare and serve the fish. We recently caught up with Santa Barbara Fish Market’s Travis Riggs to get some tips and crudo recipes from his kitchen.
“Crudo is all about super fresh ingredients,” Riggs said. “Tuna, halibut, salmon, you can make a crudo with almost any ingredient as long as you have great quality fresh fish, acid, and tasty oil.” Riggs experiments with different forms of acid (juice from lemon, lime, or vinegar) or oils (olive, truffle, or avocado…) to create a balanced crudo dish.
California Ahi Crudo
1/2 pound fresh Big-eye Ahi Tuna
1 serrano chili, thinly sliced or chopped
Pistachios, roughly chopped
Cilantro, Basil, Chives finely chopped
Sicilian Albacore Crudo
1/2 pound fresh albacore tuna
Sliced black olives
Mint and parsley, thinly sliced or chopped
Dried Calabrian chilies (or dried red pepper flakes)
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1. Thinly slice fish (or ask your fishmonger to slice it for you) and arrange it on a plate.
2. Sprinkle the fish with herbs, chilies, and nuts. Finish by sprinkling on some coarse, flaky salt; add lemon and drizzle with oil.
Spring Baking Editor’s Pick
The pandemic has taken the decadence out of most of our favorite pleasures, but not this one. In this Ombré Mocha Bundt Cake, whipped coffee creates incredibly colorful and flavorful layers. The coffee helps enhance the chocolate flavor. Vanilla, Dalgona coffee and mocha cake layers come together to make the tastiest bundt, sweetened with a vanilla glaze, then topped with chocolate shavings and chocolate covered espresso beans.
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 1 hour, 10 minutes
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 3/4 cups, plus 1 tablespoon flour, divided use
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
For the Dalgona coffee:
1/4 cup instant coffee
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup boiling water
For the glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Chocolate covered espresso beans
1. Preheat the oven to 325° F and prepare bundt pan by spraying with baking spray and using a pastry brush to evenly coat the details of the pan. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Once smooth, mix in eggs one at a time, followed by sour cream and vanilla. Mix until completely smooth.
2. In a separate bowl, combine 3 3/4 cups flour, baking powder and salt, whisking until combined. Before combining wet and dry ingredients, pour your instant coffee, sugar and boiling water into a mixing bowl and whip until soft peaks form.
3. Create a well in the flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients, mixing until combined. Separate batter into three bowls (it should come out to about 2 1/2 cups per bowl).
4. Add half of the whipped coffee and remaining tablespoon of flour into one of the bowls of batter and mix until combined. To remaining whipped coffee, whisk in the cocoa until it’s a fudgy consistency. Add the cocoa-coffee mixture to one of the remaining bowls of batter and mix until combined. One of the bowls of batter will remain vanilla flavored.
5. Scoop vanilla batter into prepared Bundt pan and smooth it into one even layer with a spoon or offset spatula. Repeat with coffee mixture and then cocoa mixture.
6. Bake cake at 325° F for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of the cake comes out clean. Cool cake for 10 minutes in the bundt pan and then invert onto a cooling rack, removing the pan once it’s cool to touch.
7. While cake cools, make glaze by whisking together powdered sugar, heavy cream, vanilla and salt until completely smooth. Pour glaze over the cooled cake and top with chocolate shavings and chocolate covered espresso beans.