Some people just don’t like raw vegetables (especially Spring vegetables). I get that. I really do.
But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop trying to get everyone to eat them. It’s my summer mission. (You’ve been warned.)
And I’m not above trying a few tricks. Like sneaking in fresh leafy greens and sugary snap peas with some of the season’s finest produce, roasted to savory goodness. And then topping it with homemade croutons and the most fabulous dressing I’ve had in ages.
It’s a salad with attitude, just like Spring herself.
Have you ever tried roasted radishes? You know how kale is, like, kale, until you schmear it with olive oil and salt and bake it for a bit, where it becomes a thing of addiction?
It’s the roasting: a short stint in a hot oven removes the bitter edge and leaves in its wake something rich and slightly sweet.
I love radishes raw, but when my own garden beauties are ready (and it’s any day now), I’ll be experimenting more with roasting, as they’re really quite something. The same goes with asparagus and leeks — the preparation is so simple and the result is outstanding.
(Note: radicchio is radicchio is radicchio. IOW, bitter (although in its delightful, non-grimacing, radicchio way). Roasting brings out a certain depth, but don’t expect sweetness here. If your peeps don’t appreciate radicchio’s sharp personality, substitute red cabbage instead.)
And now I have to say a word about the avocado-basil dressing I used on this salad: a.maz.ing. I spied the recipe on The Café Sucré Farine mere weeks ago and have been obsessing over it ever since. I can predict that, given my love of the avocado, it will be in regular rotation this summer (in salads, over pasta, or even as a sandwich spread).
Oh, and while we’re on the topic of Spring vegetables, farmers’ market season is starting up, and I’ve gathered some tips for shopping success on my other blog, Leaf & Grain. I hope you’ll give it a read.
Roasted Spring Vegetable Salad
1 large leek, white and light green part only, sliced in half lengthwise, then into 3″ pieces
1 bunch asparagus tips
1 head radicchio, cored and thinly sliced
1 bunch radishes, sliced in half
1 handful sugar snap peas, tips removed, cut into 2″ pieces
1 small head Boston or Bibb lettuce, shredded
3 ounces goat cheese
1 handful pepitas or sunflower seeds
salt and freshly ground black pepper
avocado vinaigrette (recipe here), or use your favorite vinaigrette
1. Preheat oven to 400°F
2. Place the leek, asparagus, radicchio slices and radishes (cut side down) on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on the radicchio to make sure it doesn’t singe. Remove and allow to cool.
3. Briefly blanch the sugar snap peas in boiling water (use a small sauce pot), 2 to 3 minutes, or until bright green. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process and drain.
4. Toss the peas, lettuce, goat cheese, seeds and croutons in a large salad bowl.
5. When the roasted vegetables have cooled, slice the radishes, leeks and radicchio into smaller, bite-sized pieces, and add them, plus the asparagus, to the salad bowl. Add a bit of the vinaigrette and toss to mix.
5. Serve with additional vinaigrette on the side.