There is nothing like the first vegetables of spring. Bright, fresh and slightly fragile they just scream to be treated gently and respectfully. This salad is a tribute to all those lovely veggies that are just now showing up at the farmers market. Here in Portland the spring comes a little later than most other places and it’s a sign that we are almost through our bad weather. This salad highlights all my favorites, fresh Fava beans, asparagus, radishes and spicy mizuna. If you can’t find mizuna, which is a spicy Asian green similar to mustard greens you could substitute arugula or your favorite tender green.
This is a really light salad but I find it perfect for lunch. I dressed it with a really simple tangerine vinaigrette but you could vary the citrus if you’d like. Blood oranges, grapefruit and lime would all work well here. If you decide to go with lemon or lime I would offset the tartness with a tiny bit of honey or maple syrup to balance the flavors.
If you’ve never had fresh Fava beans you are in for a treat. They do take a bit of extra work but they are so worth the effort. You need to remove the beans from the pod, quickly blanch them and then peel them out of their tough outer skins. This is a great project for kids if you have little hands looking to help you out and I have found that involving kids in the growing and preparation of vegetables makes them a lot more interested and willing to eat them. When I first started gardening years ago it was in the hopes that my vegetable hating son would develop an interest in trying some new foods. It wasn’t successful but I found that I loved puttering around my garden and working the soil. Watching something go from seed to table is super exciting and I would highly suggest giving it a try if you are at all interested.
If you are considering growing a few vegetables in your garden consider starting with a few varieties of lettuces or herbs. They grow quickly, are prolific and generally disease free not to mention really economical. If you have small children radishes are super satisfying since they have such a short growing cycle and can be planted frequently throughout the season. It’s so gratifying to be able to create a meal when you have had a hand in growing part of it.
What are your favorite Spring vegetables? I’d love to hear from you! If you give this recipe a try, post a comment, or take a pic and tag it #scalingback on Instagram!
- 1 pound fava beans
- 5-8 stalks of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 3-4 radishes, thinly sliced
- 4 cups mizuna or other spicy green
- ¼ cup chopped pistachios
- ¼ cup fresh mint
- For the dressing:
- ½ small shallot, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
- 1½ tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- juice of 2 tangerines (about 3 tablespoons)
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Prepare a water bath by combining a small bowl of water with a handful of ice cubes. Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Remove the favas out of the pod, add to the boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes. The last minute of cooking add the asparagus to the boiling water. Drain the vegetables into a colander and transfer to the water bath. Let cool and then drain. Shell the fava beans by slipping the tough outer skins off. (I usually use a small paring knife to cut a small corner of the skin off and then pop the beans out.)
- In a small bowl combine the shallot, mint, balsamic vinegar together and then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, taste and add more vinegar if desired.
- In a large bowl combine the greens, fava beans, asparagus, radishes, and mint. Season with salt and pepper and a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Top with the pistachios and additional mint.