After the long winter, it's time to give roasted roots a rest and look to the first peek of spring produce. While parsnips, turnips, potatoes, and other starchy winter veggies provide a hearty lifeline through the colder months, the garden morsels of spring offer a refreshing and lightening antidote to shoulder us, if you will, through to the temperate season.
Most of the warm weather farmers' markets don't get started until May, but it's worth a trip to the continuing winter markets, whose palettes will now begin to show splashes of green, to snap up the early offerings of the season. Newly sprung asparagus and pearly fresh peas, chunky fava beans, spring onions, swirly fiddleheads, wild arugula and other salad greens are all on the horizon, as are sunny orange baby carrots (the real ones, not the ones sold in bags at the supermarket).
The Westport Farmer's Market doesn't open until late May. A good bet for fresh produce year-round is Stiles Market at 1001 Post Road East or the new Fresh Market at 605 Post Road East. Other options, statewide, can be found at www.localharvest.org.
For a lovely spring salad for two, blanch 4 baby carrots and 5 asparagus stalks for 20 seconds, adding a generous handful of fresh peas for the last 10 seconds, in boiling water and remove to a bowl of ice water to shock. Drain well. Chop 1 spring onion and the asparagus and carrots into quarter-inch pieces and toss into a bowl with the peas. Add one and a half tablespoons of fresh chopped dill and two tablespoons of diced feta cheese. Wash and drain several leaves of Bibb lettuce and arrange on salad plates. For the dressing, combine 1/8 cup of red wine vinegar with half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and a pinch of salt. Whisk with a fork while slowly drizzling in 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil (use the greenest and best you can find). Toss the vegetables with enough dressing to coat them (or to taste but you don't want to drown them), then spoon the mixture over the lettuce. Serve with a slice of crusty, toasted Ciabatta bread.
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