Ever set eyes on a plume of dogwood blossoms blowing in a gust through rain-swept skies? Me neither. Petals on a wet black bough–indeed. More often than not, around here, spring is a slow escalating drone of mist, drizzle, sleet, rain, hail, and deluge. Yes, there are cherry trees dropping pink petals like so many tears; yes, you see goofy maple pods helicoptering out of an cerulean sky; yes it’s fun to watch dogs and kids skidding through mud on the baseball field. But for the most part, my yearning for spring (something warmer and a touch less… humid) goes unrequited. The woodpile is depleted and the promise of loose clothing and bare feet stokes a new form of appetite. I think of salad. The tenderness of baby greens in my mouth, the citrus pop of a crescent of clementine, the bitter nip of an edible flower, all whipped into a moment of suspended perfection by a snowflake glint of Marlborough Flakey sea salt on the tongue. The spring salad clears the mind, refreshes the skies, and says through flavor what my winter weary heart yearns for.
Salad & Flake Salt Recipe: Makes 4 servings
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, peeled, halved and flattened with the broad side of a knife
4 ounces spring mix baby lettuce
1 Persian cucumber, quartered lengthwise, sliced thinly
1/2 clementine (peel on), cut in 4 thin slices, each slice cut into small triangles
12 small pansies (or other edible flower), stems removed
1 ounce ricotta salata cheese, crumbled
4 pinches Marlborough flake salt
1 pinch cracked black pepper
Mix the olive oil, vinegar, and garlic in a small bowl. Set aside for 30 minutes. Remove the garlic.
Toss the lettuce, cucumber, clementine, pansies, and ricotta salata in a large bowl. Mix the vinaigrette with a whisk and toss with the salad.
Mound the salad on each of four plates. Sprinkle with flake salt and cracked pepper; serve immediately.
Salt notes: If you can’t find Marlborough Flakey from New Zealand, or just want to explore something different, try any of the following: Maldon flake salt, Murray Darling flake, The Meadow Flake sea salt, Bali Taksu Pyramid sea salt.