As a woman who made her name in the food world with a famously delicious coffee crunch cake, a fresh salad recipe like this one was the last thing we expected from confectioner extraordinaire, Valerie Gordon. Then again, when you’re working with toffee and chocolate all day, you likely learn how to make a mean green salad like this one pretty quickly, just to counter all that sugar!
If you’ve ever wondered what to do with those perfect little leaves of Little Gem lettuce this time of year, this is the recipe for you. This quick chop of spring produce, a few impossibly fresh herbs and a creme fraiche dressing have us hooked…
Think of this as a salad recipe that celebrates the freshness of a new season. As our days get longer with bright sunshine, we are treated to the blush and green harvest of the warmer seasons. 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 Avocado, Herbs + Crème Fraiche
For the salad:
2 bunches asparagus, trimmed
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp black peppercorns
½ tsp coriander seeds
8 heads little gems, leaves separated
1 head radicchio, leaves separated and torn
2 bunches breakfast radishes, leaves removed
For the vinaigrette:
2 Tbsp Sherry vinegar
2 Tbsp green garlic, minced
2 Tbsp crème fraiche
3 Tbsp olive oil
fleur de sel
1 bunch dill
1 bunch mint
In a medium saucepan, combine apple cider vinegar, water, salt, sugar and peppercorns.
Place one bunch of asparagus in a 2 quart heatproof container. 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 fill a large pot with water (about 3 quarts) and bring to a boil 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.
To make the dressing, pour Sherry vinegar into a large 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.
Grab more seasonal inspiration from our friends at Darling Magazine, here!