I have always thought of June as summer even though the first three weeks are technically still spring. Most years in Seattle, spring is actually winter-days-that-are-slightly-less-cold-and-lighter-longer. Seriously, May and June are the months when I am thinking it’s time to move somewhere else. Yes the weather sucks here in February, but it sucks in most places in February so I can let it go. By June, when it is light until 10pm but you can’t enjoy it because it’s raining and freezing, that’s when a sunny climate starts to sound really good.
This year, I am happy to report, we have had a spring. We have had something like 28 days straight with no rain which is either a record or close to a record (you think I am joking, but I am not.) Yes, we have had some hot days (90 is hot for us), but mostly it has just been lovely. Warm, sunny, slight breezes to keep the air quality high – heavenly. By this time last year, I had not even pulled my boys’ shorts out of the closet. This year, they have been wearing them for a full month.
Summer is just days away and I can only hope our good luck lasts. While we are still technically in spring, I urge you to make this salad. Everything about it is good. Three kinds of crunchy spring peas, roasted potatoes, rich pine nuts, salty olives. The only bad news about making it late in spring is that I was unable to find Meyer lemons for the vinaigrette – their season seems to have passed. The incredible peas, snap peas, and snow peas I was able to find at a farmer’s market more than made up for the lack of Meyers.
Because this is not a throw-some-lettuce-and-tomatoes-into-a-bowl kind of salad (i.e. it takes a little work), I give you some make-ahead tips. You can certainly make the salad dressing up to three days ahead. One day ahead, I de-stringed my snow and snap peas and shelled the English peas. I also toasted the pine nuts, cut the asparagus, and pitted the olives. Early on the day of, I blanched all the vegetables and wrapped them in a cotton towel and put them in the refrigerator. Does all this sound like a lot of work for a salad? Make it, delight in it’s deliciousness, then decide.
One Year Ago: Spicy Lime and Herbed Tofu in Lettuce Cups
Spring Vegetables with Lemon Vinaigrette
Adapted from Fields of Greens
Of course you can make tons of substitutions and/or add-ins. I added a quartered hard boiled egg to each of Randy’s and my portion to make it more of a main course. I also think radishes would be a great addition.
1/2 pound Yukon Gold or other boiling potatoes
Salt and pepper
Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1 small red or yellow pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 medium carrot, cut in half lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick on a diagonal
1/2 pound asparagus, woody ends removed, cut into 2 inch lengths on a diagonal
1/4 pound snap peas, strings removed
1/4 pound snow peas, strings removed
1/2 pound English peas, shelled (or use 1/2 cup frozen peas, unthawed)
2 tbsp. pine nuts, toasted
8-12 Niçoise olives, pitted
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the potatoes in a small baking dish; toss with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and bake until tender, 30-35 minutes. Make the vinaigrette. While the potatoes are still warm, cut them into halves or quarters and toss with the bell pepper, shallots and just a bit of the vinaigrette.
The bright color and crisp texture of the vegetables are essential to this salad, so be sure to have all the ingredients prepared before you begin. Prepare a large bowl of water with lots of ice. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add 1 tsp. of salt. Drop the carrot into the water, followed 30 seconds later by the asparagus, snap peas, snow peas, and English peas. Cook for 2 more minutes. Immediately scoop the vegetables into the ice water bath, adding more ice as necessary to keep the water cold. Drain well.
To keep the green vegetables from discoloring, toss the salad just before serving. Toss the vegetables together with the potato mixture, pine nuts, olives, and remaining vinaigrette.
Makes about 1/2 cup
If you can find Meyer lemons, by all means use them here.
Zest of 1 lemon, grated
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. Champagne vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
6 tbsp. olive oil
Combine everything but the oil in a small bowl, then whisk in the oil.