Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Salad Dressing

Saturday morning. I surround myself with cookbooks and the latest issue of Food & Wine and decide to make something interesting that night. Not because it's Valentine's Day--in fact, Rob and I are both unaware of this fact until the doorman (who is a woman) stops me on my way out to ask what we are doing for the evening. She raises her eyebrows lasciviously like it's a big night, and I want to tell her "trust me, it's really not", but I can't burst her bubble. I smile.

I'm just a much bigger fan of Saturday than I am of Valentine's Day.

Ultimately, the entire meal plan comes from Food & Wine, and if you don't get that magazine, I am recommending it. It is food porn, plus there is a handy guide at the front to tell you which recipes are healthy, fast, staff favorites, vegetarian, and/or require minimal last minute prep. I prefer the healthy, fast, staff faves. Another page gives you wine pairings for all the recipes.

I write a list of ingredients and head to Chelsea Market, where there is a fish market, a produce place, an Italian deli, a wine store, a dairy bar, a bread shop, an espresso stand, several cupcake bakeries, and a tea salon. Plus tango lessons on the weekend.

In the produce place, I am filling up a basket, and everything is fine until I look at my list and see "pea shoots." I stop for a minute and, I don't know what those are. I ask one of the store employees, who guides me towards the dried beans. Shaking my head, I wander down each aisle of the small store, but there is no sign of pea shoots.

I call Rob. "Can you please Google pea shoots?" I ask. "I need to know what they look like and if they go by any other name."

"One word?" he asks.


After a few seconds, he says "I can't really find's just coming up with links for actual shoes."

"Not shoes! Shoots!" I spell it. Several people glance over at me. But really, pea shoes? I consider this, and decide it's not much stranger than pea shoots. I continue to scour the store.

"Ah," he says, having landed on Of course there would be an entire site devoted to this obscure grocery item. Reading aloud, "Pea Shoots are the leaves of the traditional garden pea plant...harvested after just 2-4 weeks, depending on weather conditions, when the leaves are tender, young and literally bursting with a distinctive pea flavor."

A distinctive pea flavor. I have a minor laughing attack in the fruit aisle. Because I'm five.

But, aided by the handy description, I search near the sprouts and sure enough, find a small box of sweet pea shoots for $3.49. The salad is saved.

Crab, Avocado and Asparagus Salad
[I halved this recipe for the two of us and there was more than enough]

Total time: 45 minutes

1 lb thick asparagus
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 medium basil leaves
1 small shallot, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (Note: Kosher salt is really good. I bought a restaurant sized box of it and it is my new best friend.)
3 1/2 oz pea shoots, trimmed
1/4 cup salted, roasted pistachios, coarsely chopped
1 pound jumbo lump crab meat
2 Haas avocados, each cut into 8 wedges


1. Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. Cut off 1 inch of the asparagus tips and cut each tip in half lengthwise. Using a peeler or mandoline (Note: I used a knife. It worked better than the peeler), shave the asparagus spears lengthwise. Blanch the asparagus tips and strands in the boiling water until just heated through, 10 seconds. Drain and transfer to the ice water to chill; drain well. Pat dry and transfer to a bowl.
2. In a blender, blend the oil, lemon juice, basil, shallot and 1/4 cup of the parsley. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.
3. Add the pea shoots, pistachios and the remaining 1/4 cup of parsley leaves to the asparagus. Toss with half of the dressing and season with salt and pepper. Add the crab, avocado and the remaining dressing, toss gently and serve at once.


Jay Nicolosi said...

You lost me at "Total Time: 45 minutes." This is just a salad, correct? Forget it. If I'm investing 45 minutes (which, I'm sure, did NOT include your trip to the market), I need a better return. 45 minutes for salad? I'll pass.

Joe said...

Get back from Chelsea
Give it 45 minutes
If you want it to be tasty
Here's the things you put in it

Get some juice and meat and peppa and wedges
Be sure the salt is kosha and the leaves have edges
Got to have pea shoots and a little bitty shallot
Don't got to hit any veggies with a mallet

You're gonna boil and cut and shave and drain
Tastes so good you can serve it on a train
Got to serve it now, don't mean to steal your fun
But 46 minutes ain't gonna get it done

That's as far as I got. (next time get some ingredients that rhyme)

Sarah said...

Jay, I hear you.

Joe, you have some work to do. That was more Raffi than Rap Star. Highly entertaining, though.

Joe said...

My rap name is Ice Pack

Dan said...

"I can't really find's just coming up with links for actual shoes."

Laughed out loud.

Colleen said...

I'm with Dan. It was the first time I have ever laughed out loud at a vegetable.