There is something so enchanting about the summer rains, I love the freshness and the smell of dirt. The city gets a much needed bath and a clean start. Yesterday we had an afternoon thunderstorm, I shucked fresh peas and gazed out the lightly fogged window. Humidity thick in the air and the need for a subtle breeze desired. The first of this seasons peas appeared last week. Mounds of the them piled high in thick wooden baskets. While I was there I also picked up some asparagus and upland cress. Watercress is easily one of my favorite greens, its subtle spice just what I love. I pick greens out of the ground and eat them raw. I like the way it makes me feel.
As I was walking home through the neighborhood I took a different route. I stumbled across a few gardens that I hadn't noticed before. Thick green foliage, the smell of linden flowers subtle in the breeze, wild roses growing up brick walls. Peonies are in full swing, and I plan on having some fresh in my house for as long as I can. Breathing in their scent at ever chance I get. I dream of a home in the country surrounded by old trees, thick grass and my own garden. A porch I can read from, while listening to my boyfriend play his guitar. Right now I am content in the city but I see this in my future. The urge to grow is getting stronger everyday. The best of both worlds is where I see myself.
The spirit of this salad is about eating whatever is fresh at the famers market. Inspired by a celery salad I ate recently at Prune, that came with a huge chunk of blue cheese on toast. Gabrielle Hamilton knows whats up. It was delicious.
1 bunch of asparagus
3 handfuls of shell peas
blue cheese (I used Point Reyes, on of my favs)
Heat a deep saucepan with water to blanch your peas and asparagus. Once at a simmer, salt your water and cook asparagus and peas separately, each for 1-2 minutes. I like my vegetables still crisp. Add to an ice water bath to shock and stop the cooking process. This also helps bring out the vibrant green color.
While your water is heating, I thinly slice, fennel, celery and radishes on a mandolin. Add to a salad bowl and cover with the juice of a lemon drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt. This is a regular method I use when making salads. It allows the vegetables to macerate in the acid. At the last minute adding the greens and tossing. That way the greens are fresh and vibrant and the vegetables taste great. Drain your blanched vegetables and allow to dry. Cut asparagus in half and throw into the macerating vegetables, then the peas. Toss well, taste and adjust seasoning. Add the watercress and a drizzle of more oil. Toss again and taste, season to personal preference. Plate and top with blue cheese crumbled.