As you’ve probably figured out from previous posts, I am not the best at keeping things short and sweet.
This is part of the reason I don’t post as often as some. I love the meandering process of creating new recipes. Paging through cookbooks. Weaving my way through the farmers market. Testing. Tweaking. Pulling linens and china and silverware to find just the right pieces to set the mood. Then photographing. And finally, finding the words to describe a memory sparked by a dish, or the grain of inspiration from which it came.
As to whether I regret this slow pace, I am of two minds.
I post here to share recipes and thoughts and experiences. To encourage others to cook and travel and gather around the table with friends new and old. Part of me would like to share more. And more often.
And part of me knows that rushing the process would erode the joy. And likely the quality of what I create as well.
But there is, of course, a time for short and sweet.
Right now I’m in Europe doing all sorts of marvelous things--taking a photography workshop, leading culinary tours in Paris, and doing research for a tour of Portugal in the fall. When I get back home, summer will have arrived. But I didn’t want to leave you without any spring recipe inspiration.
So here’s a recipe I put together to celebrate the tender spring produce that should be hitting farmers markets right about now. It’s my interpretation of a delicious spring vegetable slaw I had at Manolin in Seattle. (If you’re going to be anywhere near Seattle, you need to get on over there, pronto!)
In my version, tender shaved asparagus is the star of the show. Its delicate nuttiness is beautiful against a handful of sweet shelling and snap peas. And the cruciferous tang of thinly sliced baby turnips and broccoli stalks is balanced with a creamy honey-almond vinaigrette.
This crunchy slaw is great on its own or piled high on top of a simple filet of roasted fish. Either way, it comes together in no time, short and sweet--and just right for a fresh, springtime supper.
Spring Slaw with Honey-Almond Vinaigrette
Feel free to use whatever crunchy spring vegetables you find at the market for this slaw. Radishes would be lovely. Or fava beans. Morels or other mushrooms quickly sauteed with a little garlic would not be amiss.
For a vegan version, simply omit the mayonnaise from the dressing and add an additional tablespoon or two of the almond-infused oil.
For the almonds:
½ cup whole almonds
½ cup neutral-tasting oil (I used sunflower seed oil)
For the dressing:
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons homemade or best quality store-bought mayonnaise
For the slaw:
12 oz. asparagus, shaved with a vegetable peeler
½ cup shelled English peas (from about 12 ounces of pods)
1 cup sugar snap peas, stemmed and sliced on a sharp bias
5-6 baby turnips, very thinly sliced or shaved
1 4- to 6-inch broccoli stem, peeled and julienned or shaved (I use this julienne peeler)
Preheat the oven to 375°. Spread the almonds out on a rimmed sheet pan and roast until dark golden brown and fragrant, about 13 minutes. Transfer the almonds to another sheet pan or plate to cool.
When the almonds are cool, place them in a food processor and process until coarsely ground. Place the ground almonds in a small saucepan and top with the oil. Heat over medium heat until the oil foams. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to infuse for at 10 minutes. Strain the oil through a fine-mesh sieve, reserving the ground almonds.
To make the vinaigrette, combine the garlic, sherry vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt, cayenne and mayonnaise in a small bowl. Whisk to combine. While whisking, gradually add ¼ cup of the almond infused oil. Taste and adjust seasonings. (Use any oil you have left drizzled over roasted vegetables or fish or mixed with a little honey drizzled over ice cream.)
Just before serving, dress the slaw to taste with the vinaigrette. Top with the reserved ground almonds and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Makes 4 servings
1 2- to 2 ½-lb. fillet wild salmon with skin, pin bones removed (I like Sockeye or King)
Coarse sea salt
A small bunch of mixed herb sprigs. I used rosemary, thyme, dill, and tarragon
Preheat oven to 300°. Arrange the herbs on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Lay the salmon on top of the herbs, skin-side down. Drizzle with olive oil rub the oil over the salmon to coat completely. Sprinkle with salt. Roast the salmon until medium rare, about 12 minutes per inch of thickness. You can start checking at about 8 minutes by inserting a paring knife in the salmon. You want it to flake and look moist, but not raw in the interior, like this. Keep in mind it will cook a bit more once you take it out of the oven.
Remove the salmon from the bed of herbs and place it on a serving dish. Serve warm or at room temperature topped with dressed slaw.
Makes 4 servings