Salad after a Wonky Weather Spring

Well, the weather outside is….? Hard to figure out may be the best answer for that question. It sure has been a crazy spring. From unseasonably cool to days of rain, spring this year has been a little hard to pin down. So in the vein of different, this recipe might be a bit different than you’re used to. Why, you ask? Because I want you to think. To be creative. To search & explore the market. Which is how I came up with this recipe. Just wander around. No preconceived notions as to what I wanted to cook but one guiding principle: buy the freshest, most delicious things I can (made & grown locally, of course) and serve up something delicious. So, if you’re expecting firm guidelines & set quantities, this recipe probably isn’t for you. But if you love to wander the market, interact with the farmers & purveyors, and have a sense of curiosity, you’re in the right place.

Salad after a Wonky Weather Spring

The guiding principle today is find the best ingredients at the market. So before you buy anything, take a spin around and ask your farmers & purveyors what they like best. Once you have an idea of what looks great, formulate a plan. Is there a specific ingredient I want to feature? What textures am I trying to include? Is my dish balanced (sweet, sour, salty, bitter?) Today, I feel like a salad would be just the thing.

Fresh carrots
Vidalia Onions
Chioggia Beets
Honey Kissed Pickled Turnips (Doux South Pickles)
Fresh Spring Greens
Tomme Cheese
Dried Cherries

So here’s the plan

  1. Peel the onions, leaving the root end attached. Cut in half. Brush with oil & grill until slightly charred (sweet with some smoke is the plan….). Cool down & once cool, cut root end away, leaving grilled onion “petals).
  2. Peel the carrots. Put outer skin in compost pile. Peel sweet flesh into a bowl. Add to bowl with grilled onions
  3. Chioggia beets are sweet & I love them raw. If the skin is thick you can peel them but we often just clean them thoroughly & then slice thinly (a mandolin is great for this). Reserve.
  4. Clean & cut fresh celery on a bias (crunchy is the idea!)
  5. Drain Doux South turnips of their juice. Reserve. Add turnips to bowl with everything else.
  6. Add toasted pecans & cherries (crunchy & sweet)
  7. Clean & add greens to the bowl

So we’ve now got a bowl of deliciousness. We need some dressing!

Pickled Turnip Dressing

  1. 1 part of the reserved turnip pickling liquid.
  2. Add three parts EVOO, season with salt & pepper
  3. There you go: easy dressing.

Honey-Cinnamon Dressing

2 tbsp local honey
½ cup sherry vinegar (cider vinegar works well here also)
1 and 1/3 cups EVOO
1 tsp cinnamon (toast on the stove so it releases its aroma)
salt & pepper to taste (I like pepper here!)

  1. Add honey & vinegar to mixing bowl. Add cinnamon. Whisk in EVOO. Season to taste.
  2. So, add your dressing to the bowl of goodness. Add cheese. Taste it. Season with salt & pepper as necessary. Add shaved Chioggia beets last & serve. Eat local. Smile at someone you don’t know. Drink well. Support your local farmers & artisans. Give to charity. Participate in the community. And always have FUN……