Salad gets a bad rap; not always taken seriously as a complete meal, instead associated with restrictions and diet fads. On the contrary, and I am a big believer in this, salads can be hearty, wholesome, and highly nourishing for many! Julia Sherman knows this, and not only is she interested in the nutritional appeal of a salad, but also the artistic.
Her recently published cookbook, Salad for President – an extension of the website of the same name – is full of salad recipes and conversations with artists, architects, and musicians (organized by categories like “F*%k Brunch” and “Salad In Sweatpants: Casual Meals For People Who Already Love You”). Between the creativity, the cover art, and knowing she was the book photographer, it’s safe to say Julia is making salad pretty badass. Today she’s sharing the recipe for her Watermelon and Spring Shoots dish. Vive le salad!
Watermelon Radish and Spring Shoots with Crème Fraîche Dressing | Julia Sherman, Salad for President – Serves 4
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons crème fraîche
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 small shallot, minced
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 to 4 cups mixed sunflower shoots and pea tendrils
1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 small watermelon radishes, tops removed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon pickled mustard seeds
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh horseradish, or to taste
1. Dressing: In a large, shallow serving bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing and tilt the bowl in a circular motion to completely coat the sides with dressing.
2. Salad: Peel the radishes and slice thinly into rounds using a mandolin.
3. Wash the sunflower shoots and pea tendrils and spin them dry, then gently toss with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Assemble the shoots and tendrils and the radish slices on top of the dressing puddle; scatter the dill and pickled mustard seeds over the salad. Grate the horseradish on top and serve.
Recipe notes from the chef: Pairs well with eggs and toast and adds an unexpected shock of color to the brunch menu. Pea tendrils and sunflower shoots are the first sign of spring in the farmers market, but if you can’t find sunflower shoots, you can just use pea shoots which are more readily available packaged at the grocery store. The horseradish adds a kick, but make sure you use the fresh root as opposed to bottled, prepared horseradish. Horseradish from a jar is packed in vinegar and salt and will bulldoze the light crème fraîche here; the fine shavings here are spicy but not sharp.
Your guests will spoon up the dressing from underneath the salad as they serve themselves. This is a great way to pair a rich dressing with delicate greens, while avoiding wilting and sogginess, a trick that can be applied to other recipes as well.