Tuesday, April 29, 2014
I started drinking rosé last week. Out of sheer meteorological protest. Spring this year, like every year in New England, is a big heap of bullsh!t. For every deceptively warm 65 degree Tuesday, there is a weekend of sleet and four more mornings where you can hear the heat kick on as you hit the snooze. April is the month of accidentally wearing flip flops before learning that it’s laughably cold out and returning home to change with frozen pinky toes. So I decided that if the weather is going to continue to be rude, I’m going to start drinking like it’s July, whether it’s ever coming or not. I’m kind of proactive like that.
Rosé is my favorite summer drink and in my line of work, in late March when you see pre-sell sheets with pink wine on them you gasp a little bit and allow yourself to get hopeful: this winter will end! Now, in late April, as the wine starts arriving at the store I’m such a hound for it that I’m actually defensive when customers ask for it. ‘Are there any rosés yet?’ In my head I’m like ‘back off. That first case is coming home with me, hombre.’ The fact that the whole entire goal of my job is to sell product is replaced by my blind devotion to pink wine and the promise of warm weather it brings. We need time to be alone. I’ll call you when we’re ready.
Now, because I’m a well rounded individual, I don’t JUST drink seasonally…I’ve naturally also started embracing the bright green produce of spring as it filters into the store. I guess I just don’t guard the ramps and asparagus quite as violently as the first few cases of Raventos i Blanc 'La Rosa'. When I peeped this salad in last month’s Bon Appétit, it smacked of spring to me and also brought back onto my radar one of my favorite simple delights of warmer weather: quick pickles. They are so easy (and in this case pretty!) and delicious on salads, layered on sandwiches, even set out with some good cheeses, crusty bread and cured meats for an appetizer. I made this salad for both a dinner party and Easter lunch and in both cases it was as well received as a bowl of sunshine on a not-quite-warm-enough April day.
BABY GREENS and HERB SALAD with PICKLED RADISH,
ROAST VEGETABLES, PISTACHIOS and FETA
(adapted from Bon Appétit)
Quick Pickled Radish:
1 cup rice vinegar
2 tbs. sugar
1 tbs. kosher salt
3-4 good size watermelon radish, peeled and very thinly sliced
Salad and Dressing:
2-3 tbs. olive oil
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into ¾ inch slices on the diagonal
½ bunch asparagus, cut into 2 inch sections
Several cups mixed greens (I used baby spinach and baby arugula)
¼ cup herbs (I used mostly chives, followed by mint and just a bit of tarragon)
½ cup shelled pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped
¼ - ½ cup crumbled feta or shaved parmesan cheese
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tbs. lemon juice
1 tbs. rice vinegar
Kosher salt and black pepper
Heat oven to 400 degrees. On a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, toss carrots and asparagus in 2-3 tbs. olive oil. Generously salt and pepper and set to roast until tender (maybe a little less than 20 minutes). The key to cooking these two vegetables together evenly is to keep the slices of carrots on the thinner side. You want them cooked through, but not roasted to oblivion, because over-roasted vegetables in salads tend to be the wrong version of mushy. While the vegetables roast, pickle the radish and toast the nuts:
Bring vinegar, sugar and salt to boil in a small saucepan. Let simmer just a few moments until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and drop in the radish. Let sit until just tender (about 10 minutes- although leaving a batch overnight in the fridge had no adverse results). This whole concoction will turn a fluorescent hot pink. It’s so pretty! If you have trouble finding watermelon radish, use a bunch of traditional radish. They will still turn pink, but maybe not as brightly fluorescent as the watermelon variety. Toast pistachios in a small skillet over low heat until browned and fragrant. Coarsely chop.
Combine greens and herbs in a large salad bowl. Finely mince chives, tear mints leaves from their stems and leave whole, pick tarragon leaves from their stems as well. In the spring, I adore chives, so I used a whole bunch of them here. I used slightly less mint than chives and even less tarragon, because mint and tarragon can be a bit pronounced, I didn’t want them to overwhelm the salad. Lightly salt and pepper the greens and herbs before layering on roasted vegetable, nuts, pickled radish and whichever cheese you’re using.
The first time I made this salad, I used crumbled feta, on round two, I shaved parmesan with a vegetable peeler over the top. Both versions were delightful, so choose whichever you have on hand. Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar, clamp the lid on and shake like crazy to emulsify. Pour about half dressing over salad, gently toss, salt and pepper a bit more to taste and serve with extra dressing along side.