Despite the chilly weather today, I know that spring is coming.
Shopping for trees at a local nursery last year, we learned that Bend has one-sixth(!) the growing season of our former Seattle home. So it’s not surprising that the trees here are not yet in bloom and I haven’t seen a single spring flower. But promises sprout from our garden: garlic, hyacinth, daffodils, tulips, peonies.
When spring is close, I start to crave salads. After months of winter’s hearty soups and stews, roasted meats and vegetables, I welcome tender asparagus, delicate pea shoots, new potatoes, and spring eggs with their deep golden yolks.
I first made this salad a few years ago from Molly Stevenses recipe in Bon Appetit. She described it as a ‘springy take on Nicoise salad.’ I’ve made it several ways. This time I added capers to the dressing and swapped out mixed spring greens for pea shoots.
Have you tried pea shoots? If you like snow peas, you’ve got to try them. They’re tender-crunchy, subtly sweet, and so versatile. I love them raw in salads, for crunch on sandwiches, stirred into pasta, or quick sauteed with garlic in olive oil. You’ll find them at many farmer’s markets (we buy them through our CSA), or you can grow them yourself; here’s a beautiful way.
Pea Shoot, Asparagus, and New Potato Salad with Tuna
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit
If you want to make a vegetarian version, skip the tuna and add some sheep’s milk feta. Much of this salad can be made ahead and assembled right before you eat.
For the vinaigrette:
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup salt packed capers, rinsed and patted dry
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
1 small shallot, chopped
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (or more, I like tangy dressing)
For the salad:
1 pound baby red potatoes, halved or quartered
1 pound fresh asparagus, woody stems trimmed
4 cups fresh pea shoots (use 6-8 ounces spring greens if you can’t find pea shoots)
8 radishes, thinly sliced
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
10-12 ounces good quality tuna, drained
Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a blender except for the olive oil; puree. With blender running, slowly add olive oil. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. (you can make this a day ahead and refrigerate)
Place potatoes in a large saucepan and add water to cover by 1-inch, sprinkle with salt. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for 10-15 minutes until potatoes are tender. Drain and let cool for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, fill a 13″ x 9″ baking dish halfway with ice water. Cook asparagus in a large skillet of boiling, salted water for about 4 minutes. Transfer asparagus to ice water to cool. Drain asparagus and pat dry. Dry baking dish with clean dish towel. Transfer asparagus and reserved potatoes to the dish. Add 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette and gently toss to coat.
In a separate bowl, add radishes and pea shoots. Toss with just enough vinaigrette to coat.
Spread radishes and pea shoots on 1 large platter or 4 individual plates. Arrange potatoes, asparagus, eggs, and tuna on greens. Drizzle lightly with vinaigrette. Serve.