One morning, the sun burst into my room at 6 am. No warning. No hiding behind a few lazy clouds. No snooze button. No climbing back under the sheets. This was a yank-the-covers-off, dive-into-the-cold-pool hello! Goodbye, five-plus months of Winter. Goodbye, snow storms that shut down the airports. Goodbye, two straight weeks of rain. And then, hello, tornado. Hello, full-blown hazy hot humid Summer.
And I’m excited to be here. In Summer.
But I missed Spring. I’m the kind of girl who likes to crawl back under the covers for just a few more minutes of sleep. So, a few weeks ago, when it should have been spring, I was invited to a friend’s for dinner and I made the kind of salad that celebrated the season even if the weather wasn’t cooperating. A verdant salad just waiting for the colorful blossoms of summer to peek out.
Well, Summer, on your first official day, here I am. Armed with flip-flops. Armed with picnic blankets for long lazy days. Armed with a nylon bag in my purse in case I snag some corn ears, heirloom tomatoes, or pea shoots at a farmers market on my way home from work. Hello! I’m looking forward to some good times with you.
Green green salad
The genesis of this salad is an herb salad that I adapted to be entirely green. It’s an assortment of different leaves and herbs, cucumbers, jicama or apple, and avocado. I love using pea shoots when I can find them and you might remember seeing them here before. If your pea shoots are really young, you can just chop them up and throw them in the mix. If the stems are a bit tougher, I recommend tearing off the leaves, tendrils, and blossoms for the salad and then chopping and sautéing the remaining tougher stems with some garlic. The dressing is a basic lemon-olive oil mix with a bit of cayenne pepper for a kick.
For the salad:
If you’re going to use jicama, cut it first into small cubes or matchsticks and toss with some lime juice, salt, and cilantro. Let marinate while you’re preparing the rest of the salad.
Into a bowl, throw your favorite greens and herbs. I use a double handful each of arugula, pea shoots, and baby spinach and then a few large pinches of freshly chopped cilantro, mint, and sometimes basil. Lightly dress (see below) and toss the greens and herbs.
Arrange over the greens thinly-sliced cucumber (I use a mandoline to slice baby Persian cucumbers – they’re smaller and sweeter than regular cucumbers), jicama or green apple matchsticks, and avocado. Add extra dressing if necessary and toasted pistachios if desired.
For the dressing: Whisk together lemon juice and olive oil in a 1:1.5 ratio and add salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.