One of my favorite days of the year happened last weekend - opening day of our local summer farmers' market! It makes me so happy to see the stalls filled with produce and to know that I can look forward to my Saturday morning market trip each week. At last week's market, I picked up a lovely bunch of asparagus, which is a real treat, since asparagus season here is so short. The inspiration for this salad came from The Accidental Vegetarian, and the dressing was inspired by a recipe in The Gourmet Cookbook, although I ended up making several changes to the recipes and putting my own spin on the final dish. This salad has roasted asparagus, fennel, and potatoes on a bed of arugula and watercress. Roasting the vegetables gives them deep flavor, although I'm sure grilling would be great too if you don't feel like turning on the oven. The dressing is very flavorful, with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, garlic, and tarragon (the dressing isn't in the picture though - sorry). I think the tarragon works especially nicely with the fennel in the salad. With the addition of the roasted vegetables, this salad is substantial enough to be a meal on it's own, and if you'd like to add more protein, I think some chopped hard-boiled eggs would be a great addition.
What are your favorite spring and summer salads?
Serves 4 (large portions)
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends removed, and remaining parts cut into 2-inch lengths
1 large fennel bulb (mine was 6.5 oz.), cored and cut into bite-sized slices
3 small red potatoes (mine totaled 12.5 oz.), cut into approximately 1-inch cubes
Leaves from 1 bunch arugula
Leaves from 1 bunch watercress (mine was about 5.5 oz.)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small garlic clove, peeled
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
3 tbs tarragon leaves
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Keeping each vegetable separate, toss asparagus, fennel, and potatoes in a splash of olive oil and spread them on baking sheets. Sprinkle vegetables with salt and pepper. Roast vegetables in preheated oven until they are tender and browned in spots, about 20 minutes for asparagus and fennel, and 30 minutes for potatoes. Remove vegetables from oven and cool to room temperature.
Combine all dressing ingredients in a small blender or food processor and blend until ingredients are well mixed. Alternatively, finely chop the garlic and tarragon, and whisk dressing ingredients together by hand.
Toss arugula and watercress in enough dressing to coat the leaves (you may have some dressing left over). Lay greens on a large serving platter and spread roasted vegetables on top. Serve immediately.
If you anticipate having leftover salad, do not toss the greens with dressing before serving. instead serve the salad with dressing on the side.