little gem salad

Think of this as a salad that celebrates the freshness of a new season. As our days get longer with bright sunshine and winter’s chill is now far gone, we are treated to the blush and green harvest of spring. Here, crunchy little gems and bitter radicchio are paired with the first asparagus of the year, along with handfuls of herbs, avocado and pink radishes.

Little Gem Salad with Radicchio, Pickled Asparagus and Crème Fraiche Vinaigrette

Makes 6 servings

2 bunches, medium-sized Asparagus, trimmed
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
8 heads little gems, leaves separated
1 large head radicchio, leaves separated and torn
2 medium avocados
2 bunches breakfast radishes, leaves removed

Crème Fraiche Green Garlic Vinaigrette

2 Tablespoons Sherry Vinegar
2 Tablespoons chopped green garlic
2 Tablespoons Crème Fraiche
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Fleur de Sel
1 bunch dill
1 bunch mint

In a medium saucepan, combine vinegar, water, salt, sugar and peppercorns.

Place one bunch of asparagus in a 2 quart heat proofcontainer.

When the pickling sauce boils, pour it over the asparagus, allow the pickles to cool to room temperature then cover and refrigerate.

When you are ready to compose your salad, heat three quarts of water in a large pot over a medium flame. Blanch the remaining batch of asparagus for 90 seconds. Using tongs, remove the asparagus and place in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process.

Pour vinegar into a large wooden bowl, whisk in green garlic first, crème fraiche, then olive oil. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and chill in a jar or small pitcher until ready to use.

Slice both preparations of asparagus in bite-sized pieces.

Put the little gems and radicchio in a large bowl and toss with ¼ cup of vinaigrette.

Gently combine the asparagus and asparagus pickle.

Create a mound of salad on each plate. Place a few slices of avocado, radish slices, and several sprigs of dill and mint to each salad. Drizzle additional vinaigrette over each salad and finish with a little more fleur de sel.

Image via Valerie Gordon

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