Batter Licker

April 8, 2011

asparagus, radish and smoked trout salad with lemon, dijon and balsamic vinaigrette

I remember picking radishes out of my mother’s garden as a child. And I’m almost certain that I did not clean them with as much diligence (and an entire bottle of hand soap) as the first baby carrots I ever pulled out of the ground. Rather, I brushed off the dirt with my shirt, twisted off the ugly root, and dove right in. Crunchy and spicy, I enjoyed the radish in its freshest and rawest state without any adornments. But unfortunately, I never thought to approach asparagus in the same way.

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Fresh asparagus, as I appreciate it now, signals the decline of thick greens and hearty root vegetables, and ushers in the lighter, more uplifting assortment that spring has to offer. However, in my childhood memories, I recall asparagus as a rather sad, drooping and stringy set of spears that were often overcooked, as that is the easiest and most frequent method of preparing a veggie that barely needs any time to cook. Except for eating it raw. (more…)

March 1, 2011

pea shoots, daikon radish and grated sweet potato salad with spicy sesame peanut dressing

On a recent trip to the farmers market, I picked up some pea shoots. I wasn’t really sure what I would end up doing with them, nor did it really matter at the time. It was all part of the fun of picking up as-yet-unexplored-by-me produce, and it’s what I look forward to every Saturday morning when I allow myself this $5 or less, single-item indulgence that often widens my culinary repertoire. And this particular Saturday, I was delighted to find a new bunch of greens to play with.

Although I’m generally not a fan of de-podded peas, I love snap peas in salads and stir fries. After tasting the pea shoots, I found their slightly crunchy texture and mildly sweet flavor more reminiscent of snap peas (thank goodness!). Having also picked up a daikon radish (regular radishes will also do) because the pea shoots cost only half of my $5 limit on indulgent farmers market purchases, I added that crunchy, slightly spicy root to the mix, and soon decided to use these veggies in their freshest, most flavorful form: raw.

Having embarked on this salad adventure, I wanted to add something healthy but with a little more heft, so I grated some raw sweet potato. That may sound weird if you haven’t tried raw sweet potato before, but trust me and the variety of raw root vegetable salads and slaws out there. As someone with major texture issues, I promise this one isn’t weird. But if you truly aren’t ready for that, try carrots instead to preserve the same beautiful orange color and a similarly sweet flavor.

I also added some cucumber and chopped cilantro – and while I find that cucumber contributes a lightness that’s wonderful in most salads and I think you can never go wrong with a small addition of fresh herbs, they are aren’t essential to this pea shoot and root vegetable-centric salad if you don’t have them on hand. (more…)

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