As the weather warms up this spring and farmers markets begin to open, you can experiment with new vegetables and fruits. Try this salad recipe that focuses on ingredients found in April and May at your local farmers markets. It features a vinaigrette using fresh herbs that bring out the natural flavors in the salad's components.
Don't worry too much about the measurements of the produce; have fun experimenting with different proportions that are to your liking. Other seasonal produce that works well with this salad: sprouts, carrots, mushrooms, kale, spinach and any kind of onion.
Make Ahead: The beets can be roasted, cooled, peeled and refrigerated a day or two in advance. The vinaigrette can be refrigerated a day or two in advance. Bring to room temperature before using.
- For the salad
- 4 small red and/or golden beets (unpeeled; about 12 to 14 ounces total)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
- 2 cups packed arugula, rinsed and dried
- 1 cup watercress, rinsed and dried
- 1 cup mache, rinsed and dried
- 6 to 8 radishes, cut into thin rounds
- 1/4 medium red onion, cut into thin slices
- 8 bibb lettuce leaves, rinsed and dried
- Flesh of 1/4 ripe avocado, cut into small chunks, for garnish (optional)
- 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese, for garnish (optional)
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted, for garnish (optional; see NOTE)
- For the vinaigrette
- 1/2 teaspoon honey or light agave nectar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup packed fresh dill
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- 1 large clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt, or more as needed
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more as needed
For the salad: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine the beets, oil and sea salt to taste in a glass baking dish; toss to coat evenly. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 35 to 40 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife. Cool completely, then trim the beet ends; use a paper towel to slip off the skins (and discard them). Cut the beets into thin rounds and place in a stain-proof bowl.
Combine the arugula, watercress, mache, radish slices and red onion in a mixing bowl.
For the vinaigrette: Combine the honey or agave nectar, lemon juice, dill, chives and garlic in a blender or mini food processor. Pulse to combine. With the motor running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream to form an emulsified vinaigrette. Season with sea salt and pepper.
Add about 3 tablespoons of vinaigrette to the bowl of greens; toss to coat evenly. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Arrange the lettuce leaves on a platter so they are fairly flat. Top with the dressed salad greens, beets and some or all of the optional garnishes: avocado chunks, goat cheese and pine nuts.
Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette just before serving.
NOTE: Toast pine nuts in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, shaking the pan occasionally to prevent burning, until the nuts are golden brown and fragrant.
From Elaine Gordon, a master certified health education specialist and creator of EatingbyElaine.com.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.