After a frigid, icy start to the season, I am ready to see the familiar signs of spring. Luckily we are headed to California tomorrow to visit family and I look forward to basking in the warmth of the sun and long to feel the sand between my toes. I know that 5 minutes after I get there I will be missing Portland but right now I am craving some sights and sounds of my childhood.
Until I moved North I never experienced the pleasure of seeing the first seedlings of the season pop out of the ground and the joy of picking tender pea shoots and early radishes.The one thing particularly absent from growing up was the changing of seasons, it seems that it’s always sunny and 70 no matter what the date on the calendar reflects. I have come to appreciate the seasonal swing of life especially when it comes to food.
I love to see what the first market of the season has to offer. Radishes, fava beans and snap peas are at their finest during the chilly wet start of spring here in Portland and when I see them appear I know that warmer weather and long days in the garden aren’t far behind. I know that radishes aren’t the sexiest of vegetables but I have a particular fondness for their sharp pungent bite. Favas can be a bit of work since you have to shell them and then skin them but they have such a lovely buttery texture and flavor. For this recipe try to find organic vegetables if you can, you want the best quality you can find since this is such a simple salad.
I know that some people shudder at the thought of eating anchovies but if you’ve never tried them you should really give it a try. They offer a rich salty umami flavor that is really wonderful. You could substitute a teaspoon of capers for the anchovies or just leave them out, the salad will still be delicious. This makes a really satisfying but light and healthy lunch that comes together quickly.
Spring radish and fava salad
1 bunch red radishes, trimmed
1 pound fava beans, shelled
½ pound sugar snap peas
¼ cup fresh mint
2 oil packed anchovy fillets or ½ teaspoon anchovy paste
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. Add one tablespoon of kosher salt to the water. Add the snap peas and cook until crisp tender 1-2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peas to the bowl to cool, drain and set aside. Add the shelled fava beans to the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain the favas and add them to the ice bath.
Peel the tough outer skins off the favas and put them in a medium bowl. Slice the snap peas in half lengthwise and add them to the favas. Thinly slice the radishes with a mandolin or alternatively cut them into quarters and add them to the vegetables.
To prepare the dressing, place the anchovies, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil in a blender and blend until smooth. Alternatively you can using a mortar and pestle, mash the anchovy, garlic and a pinch of salt to a paste, mix in the lemon juice and then slowly stream in the olive oil to make a nice smooth dressing
Taste and season with salt and pepper, the anchovy adds a lot of saltiness so make sure to add just as much salt as needed. Toss the vegetables with a tablespoon of the dressing and taste, add more dressing if desired but don’t overdo it. Sprinkle with the mint leaves and serve along with the extra dressing.