Always Do a Lap Before You Commit

Hallelujah! My neighborhood far mar, Mount Pleasant Farmers’ Market, is opening this Saturday. I’m working there the first day and cannot wait to be surrounded by spring’s fresh vegetables. But I just couldn’t wait and headed to FRESHFARM’s Dupont far mar this past Sunday. A little sneak peak, if you will.

I listen to Cher and always do a lap before I commit (see last quote), checking options, quality, prices and variety around the far mar. I selected the spring staple asparagus, as well as spinach. And then I made my one out-there purchase: peppercress. I’d never heard of it before. My rule at market is if I haven’t heard of it I’m allowed to buy it and will try not to buy something else that I’ve already discovered.

I tasted the mirco-green and holy crap, it’s like eating horseradish. It has that fantastic harsh heat, sort of like a radish as well. I was stoked but wasn’t at all sure how I’d like to use it. And then I went with my standby: whiz it into a sauce.

Recipe, with mysterious berry, after the jump.

Wheat Berry, Asparagus and Spinach Salad with Peppercress-Yogurt Dressing

I followed the directions on my cheat sheet that came with the berries. In fact, these are hard red wheat berries, picked from Nash’s Organic Produce in Sequim, Washington. I bought them back when I vacationed to Seattle in February. As such, I rinsed and then soaked 1 cup of berries over night. Then I drained the berries and them added them to 3 cups of boiling, salted water, then brought the water down to a simmer. (I also got some help from Ina Garten.)

After about 70 minutes I still wasn’t happy with the texture (too chewy) so I added another cup of water to continue the simmer and absorb the water for maybe another 20 minutes.

During that time I prepped the rest of the ingredients. In a small food processor, I blended peppercress, Greek yogurt, a touch of oil, salt and pepper for a zesty, creamy dressing.

I then blanched the asparagus, keeping it the boiling, salted water for only 30 seconds, soaking it in an ice bath and then draining it. I chopped the asparagus into bite size pieces. Normally I would then sear the asparagus for more flavor, but it was already so beautifully bright green and had this fantastic snap to it that I just left it boiled.

For the spinach, I simply washed it and chopped the ends apart. I wanted to add some crunch and a bit of protein, so I roughly chopped up a few almonds and then to up the creaminess (not necessary) I threw in a few chunks of avocado. Mostly because I had one around and it needed to be used. Well, and really mostly because avocado is awesome.

As the peppercress is so pretty (and I have to get through a quarter pound of it), I added just a few of the greens to top the mound right before dressing it.


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One comment

  • TheGourmetCoffeGuy May 7, 2011  

    Rabbit food, as we call salads in our home, are what we eat the most. We always seem to need more recipes and ideas to change the “next salad” into something special. Really like your tip about using wheat berries and peppercress in this salad recipe, will definitely try this very soon. Your photos are nice and crispy, just like the fresh vegetables for the salad! Thank you for sharing.

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