“The spring equinox may have come and gone, but Mother Nature still has the majority of the country thinking the warmer weather is still be months away; however, the longer days have us chomping at the bit for spring ingredients. Very soon restaurant menus will be filled with dishes containing ramps, morels, fava beans, and a wide array of fresh produce. There may still be some time before this transition happens in full force but you will start to notice the first signs of spring vegetables in the local groceres. Delicate spring lettuces, tender yet spicy radishes, and even a few types of French green beans are popping up on store shelves. The aforementioned produce are the perfect ingredients to assemble an early spring salad with rich goat cheese crostini. Green beans, or haricot vert if you want to sound fancy, are typically considered a summer ingredient, but some specimens sprout early enough for people to enjoy as early as now.
Young golden beets are rich and earthy, the perfect counterpoint to the bright homemade vinaigrette, but take a considerable amount of time to cook. A piece of advice for the young beets: trim the greens off and cook them early, once cooked they may be peeled, chilled, sliced, and stored until the remainder of the salad is complete. In kitchen talk, to ‘blanch’ a vegetable is to cook the ingredient in salted water, then quickly place the ingredient in ice water to abruptly stop the cooking process, thus preserving the nutrients and color of the vegetable.
This recipe will make enough for entrées for two people.
Everyone needs a set of stainless-steel bowls in their own kitchen. We bought our first set of three bowls when we first moved to the west coast. We have since added two bowls to the set, but the original three bowls are still in rotation. When picking out your set look for one that can be stacked within each other to save cabinet space.” – Joe
For the Goat Cheese Crostini:
- 4 ounces goat cheese – fresh, left out at room temp for one hour
- 2 tablespoon chives – sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons shallots – diced very small
- 2 small clove garlic – minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon Slap Ya Momma chili powder
- 8 slices French bread
- Combine all of the ingredients for the goat cheese, except for the bread, in a bowl.
- Spread the mixture on the bread slices and toast in the oven on the broil setting.
- Set aside
For the Homemade Vinaigrette:
- 1 tablespoon chives – sliced thin
- 1 tablespoon shallots – diced very small
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¾ cup olive oil
- Pinch salt and pepper
- Place all the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a bowl and whisk vigorously to combine.
For the salad:
- 2 cups fresh spring mix lettuce
- 1 cup green beans – trimmed cut in half and blanched
- 2-4 young beets – cooked, peeled and sliced
- 3 radishes – washed and thinly sliced
- Place the beets in a pot of salted water and bring to a boil.
- Boil for about one hour or until it is easily pierced with a fork.
- Drain, cool slightly, and peel beets while warm.
- Split the greens into two bowls and toss with the homemade dressing,
- Split remaining garnishes between the two bowls.