Where do I start! I love salad (I think I have mentioned this before), and spring time is when I really get to enjoy salads almost on a daily basis.
Salads,in my mind, have to have certain components to be really good. For starters, all ingredients must be fresh, seasonal, and of the highest quality. Two; there needs to be a variety of colors, textures, and flavors, but of course,they need to compliment each other. And three; the dressing or vinaigrette needs to be good. I am sorry (not really), but no ranch dressing in my book. This salad meets all my required components. The red romaine (Clark Valley Farms), is beautiful; crunchy, juicy, red on the tips and outside leaves,and light green the closer you get towards the heart. This week is the first week that I have seen such beautiful radishes (again, Clark Valley), I couldn't resist. Their gorgeous red color just pulled me in. Sliced thin, they offer a little crunch, a little mouth feel, and a little spice. I also added steamed asparagus pieces, thinly sliced refreshing fennel, and good raw and fatty walnuts (radishes need a little fat to compliment their crunch and spice). The dressing is a mixture of local honey, local Meyer lemons, shallots, tahini (sesame seed paste), and excellent extra virgin olive oil.
Meyer lemons are my favorite acid to use in vinaigrettes and dressings during the spring. According to Food Lover's Companion (Herbst, S.T. 3rd edition. Barron's Educational Series, 2001), a Meyer lemon is a cross between a lemon and an orange. Compared to a regular lemon, Meyer lemons have very smooth skin; sweeter, less acidic juice; are quite fragrant; and are rounder in shape. This dressing can be used in any salad, and is especially good with wild rice and asparagus. If you don't have tahini, or you just don't like it, pureed avocado would be just as good. Once you make your own dressings and vinaigrette, you will never buy an already made one again!
I like to garnish this salad with raw walnuts (not toasted to preserve their precious omega-3s), and the fronds from the bulb of fennel. Tarragon leaves would also be a nice garnish here as well. I always add herbs to my salads; they add such a nice surprise in between bites!
Red Romaine, Asparagus, and Radish Salad with
Sweet and Creamy Meyer Lemon-Tahini Dressing
Serves 2-4 as a first course or last course
-1 tablespoon minced shallot
-1 tablespoon honey
-juice of 2 Meyer Lemons
-1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
-1 tablespoon tahini
-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, or to taste
In a pint sized glass mason jar, combine all ingredients except the extra virgin olive oil. Close the lid tight and shake well. Add the olive oil and shake well again. Set aside.
-1 head red romaine, cut into fork size pieces, washed and spun dry
-1/2 bulb fennel, core removed,sliced thin on a mandolin (a Benrinner mandolin is my favorite)
-3-4 Cherry Belle radishes, washed and sliced thin
-10 asparagus spears, cut into 1/2 inch lengths, steamed and quickly cooled
-Handful of chopped, raw walnuts
-Fennel fronds for garnish
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl or on a plate. Serve with the dressing on the side.