There are many things to love about Spring. More sunlight. Spring showers. Blooming hillsides. The thing I love most though? Seeing all those new spring veggies pop up at the farmers market. Just when I think I can’t handle another bunch of kale, I see gorgeous green and purple spring onions! Where once were boring potatoes, I find thin, crisp stalks of asparagus! And replacing the all too familiar butternut squash are delicious and delicately sweet fresh peas! Maybe my glee is a little over-the-top considering the subject matter, but if you frequent the farmers market, you’re probably nodding along with me. And if you don’t, now is the perfect time to see what’s growing in your neck of the woods and make some delicious creations with your bounty. Following is a salad I made in celebration of Spring. It’s as pretty as it is delicious and you can substitute other veggies depending on the time of year. This version is designed to be a starter or an accompaniment to a meal, but you can add cooked shrimp or chicken to the salad to make it a meal. Enjoy!
3/4 lb fresh peas (see note)
1 lb asparagus
1 spring onion
1 T We Olive Arbequina extra virgin olive oil
3 T We Olive Meyer Lemon extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. (Whenever I’m blanching, or quickly cooking, vegetables I salt the water to taste like seawater. They’re only going to be in there for a moment, so you need to season the water well.) Remove the peas from the pods and set aside, discarding pods. Prepare the asparagus by snapping the tough ends from the stalk. Bend the thick end of the stalk until it breaks naturally. This leaves the most tender part of the asparagus and rids you of the stringy tough ends. Prepare a large bowl of ice water and place it in the sink. Drop both the asparagus and peas into the boiling salted water and blanch for 1 – 2 minutes. I like my veggies to be crisp tender, so check taste them after a minute and decide if you’d like to cook them a bit further. When crisp tender, but no raw taste remains, drain the veggies in a colander and then dunk them in the ice bath to shock them. Shocking stops the vegetables from cooking further and becoming too soft and preserves the bright green color.
Trim the dark green ends from the spring onion and the root from the bottom of the bulb. Slice it in half lengthwise and then slice thinly. You should have roughly a 1/2 cup of sliced onion. If you can’t find spring onion, substitute scallion or shallot in a pinch. Heat 1 tablespoon of We Olive Arbequina extra virgin olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. Cook the onions until soft and translucent but do not brown, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Finely grate the zest from one lemon and set aside. Juice the lemon and add 1 tablespoon of juice to a medium bowl. Whisk 3 tablespoons of We Olive Meyer Lemon extra virgin olive oil into the lemon juice until well combined. Stir in the reserved sliced spring onions and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Toss the asparagus and peas in the dressing and check the seasoning. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Divide among 4 plates or serve family style on a platter. Garnish with zest from lemon and serve.
Note: Fresh peas have better flavor and texture than frozen peas, but if you can’t find fresh peas, substitute 1 cup of defrosted frozen peas and skip the blanching step.