Finally Spring is here! Yay for the verdant greens of baby lettuces, peas & asparagus and the popping pinks of radishes & strawberries! Here’s another easy salad for all the upcoming Easter or Mother’s Day. Top this salad with Feta, goat cheese or ricotta salata if desired. I sneak in some fresh herbs like mint and dill to make it interesting…
Sumac is a spice we use a lot in Persian cooking. It has a lemonade punch that really gets the salivary glands going. In salad dressings I add it to sweeter vinaigrettes but it’s traditionally used to season meat after cooking and sometimes added to stews and braised dishes. It gives a nice acidic pick-me-up to heartier richer recipes. Go easy on the sumac, I often see recipes online that call for way too much of it – it’s very puckery, just like eating a lemon – and a little goes a long way. I also like to mix sumac with cumin, cayenne, smoked paprika and kosher salt for the rim on margaritas and bloody mary’s.
Radishes are popping now and pictured below are the watermelon radishes from a local farm. But there’s so many more to choose from that are equally exciting! If you want a little peppery spice add black Spanish radish. Or for more interesting shapes & colors there’s always the pretty oblong French radishes, or the purple & pink Easter egg radishes, or the super cute micro radish, Cherry Bomb, that looks just like it sounds – a miniature red bomb.
I added some wild sweet pea tendrils from my garden, otherwise known as mountain pea or vetchling. This wild pea has a tendency to wrap its tendrils over every plant I’ve got unless I weed it out. The seeds and flowers are toxic, but to my knowledge the shoots are edible as well as the starchy bulbous tuberous root, that when roasted tastes somewhere between a water chestnut and a sweet potato. The root is very highly rated for flavor apparently but I’ve yet to try one because I never seem to be able to dig them out.
This wild pea tuber was once a popular item in European farmer’s markets in the early 1900’s. But lost it’s luster somewhere down the line because it couldn’t easily be commercially grown – which is a surprise because I can’t seem to get rid of it! Feel free to substitute pea tendrils from the super market.
- 2 heads bibb lettuce or mesculun mix, washed and torn into bite size pieces
- 1 watermelon radish, shaved thin on a mandolin
- 4 red radishes (or other type), shaved thin on a mandolin
- 1 bunch pea tendrils
- 1 Belgium endive, chopped
- 3 sprigs dill, torn
- 3 sprigs mint leaves, torn
- 2 cups snap peas, blanched for 5 seconds in boiling salted water and plunged in an ice water bath immediately afterwards
- Feta or goat cheese garnish (optional)
- Sumac Vinaigrette:
- 1 cup sweet vinegar like Rice Wine or Muscat Orange Champagne Vinegar (Trader Joe's, my fav)
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 1/4 cups flavorless oil like canola, grapeseed or avocado (you might need more depending on strength of vinegar)
- 1/2 teaspoon sumac
- Kosher salt and a few pinches of white pepper
- note: if using rice wine vinegar add a splash of orange juice
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar and shallot. Drizzle the oil in whisking constantly in a slow steady stream to emulsify. Add sumac, salt and pepper to taste.
Put all the produce in a big salad bowl, toss with a 3-4 tablespoons of the salad dressing, taste, adjust salt and pepepr, sprinkle cheese over if using and serve!
Note: sometimes I just chop up the sugar snap peas on the diagonal if they are super large