Are you feeling it? A whispered promise of Spring? It's in the air! And though today was a crisp, chilly Carolina day, when a down jacket and warm woolen scarf felt just perfect, there are many assurances that old man Winter is on the verge of passing his icy baton to a lovelier, more gracious player
As I pen this post, I notice the Bradford Pear tree out the living room winter is boasting; it’s wintry bare branches now covered with polka dots of fluffy white blossoms. Daffodils in their cheerful glory are lining boulevards all over town and spiky verdant tulip leaves can be spotted poking up proudly through seemingly lifeless soil as we take our morning walks.
Just yesterday I noticed, with great delight, my blueberry bush, all covered with tiny pale blossoms, definitely a sign of delicious warmer days to come.
Yes, it’s coming, for sure, and as I mentally prepare for bare feet, flip flops, short sleeves and sunscreen, I'm also getting psyched up in a culinary sense. I'm dreaming of delightful spring and summer produce soon to be abounding in local markets. I can hardly wait to get reacquainted after a long winter respite. Though we enjoy salads all year long , a hint of Spring in the air and lovely fresh ingredients piled high at green markets and farmer's stands, well, let's just say they send me into salad-making nirvana!
I hope you enjoy this delicious betrothal-of-Spring salad as much as we did. The greens are sweet and tender with lovely butter lettuce and cilantro. Thinly sliced ribbons of baby bok choy give a crisp crunch along with a nice green contrast. Sliced cucumber and avocado add more layers of deliciousness and texture. Sweet blackberries, as you can see, make the salad just pretty as a picture!
The dressing is the crowning glory though for this fabulous salad. Bright green, fresh and flavorful describe it perfectly. With basil*, lemon juice, rice vinegar, ginger and honey as the featured stars, the vinaigrette perfectly compliments the vibrant green salad. I'm serving this tonight with pan-seared salmon but it can also stand alone for lunch with crusty warm bread or a bowl of soup. It would make a family dinner quite special and would have no problem gracing the table for your fanciest guests.
- Ingredients for the vinaigrette:
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves packed
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 6 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon fresh finely grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha
- 1 teaspoon garlic finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup canola oil
- Ingredients for the salad:
- 6-8 cups butter lettuce
- 3 small baby bok choy thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- ½ medium English seedless cucumbers, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 medium avocado cored, peeled, quartered lenthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
- ½ medium red onion halved and thinly sliced
- ½ pint blackberries
- ½ cup toasted salted cashew halves
For the vinaigrette, combine all vinaigrette ingredients, except the oil, in the bowl of a food processor. Puree mixture until smooth.
With motor running slowly add both oils. If too thick add a bit of water.
Taste and season with a bit more salt and pepper if needed
For the salad, combine butter lettuce, boo chou and cilantro leaves in a medium size bowl.
Divide evenly onto 4 salad plates.
Scatter with the cucumber, avocado, red onions and blackberries.
Drizzle each salad lightly with vinaigrette. Pass extra vinaigrette at the table.