Remember that salad?
Well, that, along with a slew of other variations actually all started with this salad, as we said, from a new cookbook from Patricia Wells, Salad as a Meal.
We figured it was pretty important to post the recipe that inspired at least a half dozen variations on a theme: four different, but similar, vegetables in a light dressing, without relying on wimpy leafy greens to call it a “salad.” The most important part of the recipe is really just the technique for blanching the vegetables. The dressing is awesome, but we do have to admit that we haven’t made it since the first time we made the salad in its original form. We got a little distracted, but once we get bored with Green Goddess, we’ll probably go back to the creamy lightness of the lemon chive combination.
Spring Salad of Asparagus, Peas Edamame, Beans and Fennel with Lemon-Chive Dressing
mostly based on the recipe out of Salad as a Meal by Patricia Wells, with the edamame substitution
16 spears (about 1 pound) fresh green asparagus, trimmed
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 pound slim haricot verts, trimmed at both ends ad cut into 3-inch pieces
8 ounces peas, fresh or frozen (no need to thaw) – we used edamame
1 small fennel bulb (about 4 ounces)
Lemon Chive Dressing
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
optional variation: about 4 ounces aged Comté cheese cut into thin strips
Prepare 4 large bowls of ice water
Trim the asparagus, discarding the woody ends. Trim the tender tips on the diagonal to about 4 inches. Cut the remaining stalks on the diagonal into 3-inch pieces.
Fill a large pot with 3 quarts of water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the coarse sea salt and the asparagus stalk pieces. Blanch, uncovered, for 1 minute. Then add the tips (which will cook more quickly) and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. (Cooking time will vary according to the size and tenderness of the asparagus.) Immediately remove the colander from the water, letting the water drain from the asparagus and reserving the cooking water. Plunge the asparagus into a bowl of ice water so they cool down as quickly as possible and retain their crispness and bright green color.
(The asparagus will cool in about 1 to 2 minutes. If you leave them longer they will become soggy and lose crispness and flavor.)
Drain the asparagus and wrap them in a thick kitchen towel to dry. (Do not cook them in advance or they will lose their crispness.)
Bring the water back to a boil, add the green beans, and blanch, uncovered, until very tender, about 4 minutes. (Cooking time will vary according to the size of the beans.) Immediately drain the beans (again reserving the cooking water) and plunge them into a second bowl of ice water so they cool down as quickly as possible and retain their crispness and bright green color. (The beans will cool in 1 to 2 minutes. After that, they will soften and begin to lose their crispness and flavor.) Transfer the beans to a colander, drain, and wrap in a thick towel to dry. (The beans can be cooked up to 2 hours in advance. Keep them wrapped in the towel and hold at room temperature.)
Bring 1 quart of water to a simmer in the bottom of a steamer. Place the peas on the steaming rack. Place the rack over the simmering water, cover, and steam just until the peas are cooked al dente, 1 to 2 minutes. Immediately drain the peas and plunge them into another bowl of ice water so they cool down as quickly as possible and retain their crispness and bright green color. (The peas will cool in 1 to 2 minutes. If you leave them longer, they will become soggy and begin to lose crispness and flavor.) Drain the peas.
We just boiled the edamame in the pods for about 3 minutes, drained, then shelled.
With a mandoline or chef’s knife, cut the fennel into very thin slices, dropping them into the last bowl of ice water to crisp them for about 10 minutes.
At serving time, drain the fennel, combine all the vegetables in a large bowl and toss with just enough dressing to coat them lightly and evenly. Taste for seasoning. Arrange on 4 large dinner plates. Season with pepper and serve.
Creamy Lemon Chive Dressing
makes 1¼ cups
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup light cream
½ cup finely minced fresh chives
In a small jar with a lid, combine the lemon juice and salt. Cover with the lid and shake to dissolve the salt. Add the cream, chives, and lemon zest. Shake to blend. Taste for seasoning. The dressing can be used immediately.
Store the dressing in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Shake to blend again before serving.