Thursday, April 11, 2013
Spinach, Strawberry and Asparagus Salad with Lemon Saffron Dressing
Spring is a season of contrasts. Days full of sunshine and cheer, punctuated with periods of gray skies and rain. Crisp, chilly mornings give way to afternoon warmth and that fresh feeling of being alive, which then hands the reins back over to the coolness to close out the day.
Or, at least, that is the spring that lives in my memory. The one formed by living on the East Coast for 23 years. At first glance, it appears that we now live in a land of eternal spring. Occasional forays, perhaps, into some hot or cold (relatively) weather, but mostly smooth sailing with blue skies and warm temperatures.
But it isn't quite spring. Or if it is indeed spring, it is one with some blandness, one with less roughness around the edges. In other words, one with less contrast.
This salad embodies the memory of spring. Cool earthy green veggies interspersed with some fiery red from the strawberries and radishes. Crunchy asparagus and celery sharing space with soft berries. Warm floral saffron dressing coating some crisp greens. Spicy radishes with sweet strawberry.
A salad full of contrasts. Which makes it particularly well-suited to serving with a big, greasy take-out pizza, all bendable and delicious, which is what we did...
For the salad:
3 cups spinach leaves
1 scallion, chopped
4 radishes, sliced
handful of pencil thin asparagus spears, tough ends removed, then chopped
2-3 tablespoons chopped celery
handful of strawberries, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
bit of lemon zest
For the dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
bit of lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a medium bowl, toss spinach, scallion, radishes, asparagus, celery, and strawberries. Sprinkle a bit of salt, pepper, and lemon zest.
In a small pot over low heat, combine the olive oil and saffron threads. Once the mixture is fragrant - about 5 minutes, take off heat and add the minced shallots. Let the mixture cool a bit, then whisk in the white wine vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and mustard. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Pour desired amount of dressing over the salad and toss to coat.