My husband and I are taking a gamble that there will be no more thunder snow, no more golf ball hail, no more ice in the watering can and frost on the windows, and have planted out some of the spring vegetables.
Itâ€™s official. This year, we have moved out of window box territory into a proper potted garden.
It started a few weeks back, with a trip to Home Depot to pick up sacks of soil and a trolley load of pots and planters, then a late night (slightly drunken) internet trawl to purchase seeds and seedlings some of which I failed to notice would not be delivered until the end of May (ok, maybe slightly more than slightly drunk). And now mini herb seedlings are progressing nicely under their plastic wrap, the sunflower shoots are re-potted, the peas are staked, and everything that can grow outside has been exiled and is no longer cluttering up the living room.
The strategy is this; grow lots of things, maybe some of them wonâ€™t die. So we have a raspberry plant, a blueberry tree (odd, since I thought they grew on bushes, but this is a big ole tree), asparagus, strawberries, onions, carrots, beans, sweet peas, daisies, sunflowers, and all kinds of things that I was certain weâ€™d remember without having to fill in a marker, and have now promptly forgotten.
And so, with the last of the dirt cleaned out from under my nails, and a quick inspiring trip to the Union Square Farmerâ€™s Market under my belt, Iâ€™m in Spring mood â€“ looking for fresh, zesty, crunchy flavors, full of seasonal zeal. And if that spirit resonates with you too this week, may I recommend this elegant salad?
Asparagus butter lettuce salad (serves 4)16 sticks of asparagus 1 head of butter lettuce Â¼ cup skinned almonds 2 balls of fresh mozzarella
For the dressing:3 tbsp olive oil 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice Â½ tbsp grain mustard Â½ clove garlic Salt and pepper
- Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and slice very thinly into diagonal disks. Taste a sliver. If it’s a bit tough, blanch it in boiling water, then plunge into iced water to refresh and stop the cooking. If it’s crunchy and delicious leave it raw.
- Wash the butter lettuce well (sometimes they have a lot of sand) and spin in a salad spinner. Pat dry with paper towels
- Rip up the lettuce and put in a bowl with the asparagus
- Roast the almonds at 350 for about 4-5 mins â€“ keep an eye on them, youâ€™re looking for golden, and they can turn to charcoal in a second
- Roughly chop the almonds and add to the salad
- Rip up the mozzarella and add to the salad
- Pour the oil and lemon into a jam jar. Add the mustard, grate in the garlic and season well. Shake to combine, then dress the salad (you may not need all of the dressing, and it will keep in the fridge for a few days and makes a lovely marinade for chicken)
- Serve with chunks of crusty bread
To make this a more substantial meal for triathlete friends and the like:
- add 2 cups of cooked cooled orzo to the salad (once the orzo is drained, toss with some olive oil and salt and pepper before cooling)
- or add slices of roast or grilled chicken