Hannah Palmer Egan
Tastes like spring
It's spring — the trees are blooming with allergy-stoking first-green-is-gold — and all I want to eat are greens. But I live in a small Burlington apartment (no garden now, alas), and the Queen City hasn't hosted a farmers market in weeks. City Hall Park will remedy that this weekend with the first outdoor market of the season, but in the meantime, I'm desperately seeking roughage.
Fortunately, my little backyard provides dandelion greens, feral chives, trout lily... Yes, I'm eating the weeds. Also lately, I've been seeing bags of stemmy Claytonia — also called miner's lettuce — from Dog River Farm
at City Market, and I grabbed some the other day on a whim. Miner's lettuce is an early spring weed, native to the American West, with dainty little heart-shaped leaves and long, crunchy stems. It doesn't taste like much, mostly just green — crisp and watery. But, when paired with my backyard bounty, it contributes to a refreshing salad.
The real trick is in the dressing. I call this my "everything dressing," because it's great on anything — innocuous enough that it gets along well with whatever you decide to throw into the salad. It also makes a great marinade for all manner of proteins, from fish to mutton. On today's salad, I added goat cheese. Tomorrow, maybe nuts or apples or pears. Later this summer, tomatoes...
Makes 1/2 cup
1 tablespoon miso (I've been using Mellow Red miso from Rhapsody Natural Foods
, in Cabot)
2 tablespoons water
Juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon plum vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 very small clove garlic, smashed but whole
In a small Mason jar, blend the miso and water with a fork until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients, plus whatever seasonings you prefer — ginger (1/2 teaspoon, freshly grated) is a nice addition, as is pepper or coriander. Add a tablespoon or so of tahini, and it starts to resemble goddess dressing...