I’m originally from Seattle, a mossy green, slate grey place I love. I miss the heavy-bellied clouds dragging across the sky, and it’s still difficult for me to reconcile myself with San Diego’s perpetual blue skies. I have, however, begun to attune my senses to the subtle seasons here, and I certainly can’t complain about the crazy-long growing season. This is a salad made in early March with local, seasonal ingredients, including herbs from our own garden and mesclun, carrots, and radishes from our Be Wise Ranch CSA box.
Sorry if this makes you weep in some cold, snowy clime, but here’s the herb garden as of today, March 9:
Listen: Because of the garden/ “grow your own” nature of this recipe, I recommend my favorite John Prine song, “Spanish Pipedream” which includes the lyrics, “Blow up your TV. Throw away your paper. Go into the country. Build you a home. Plant a little garden…” Then, in honor of the teeming bird life in the happy garden, add “The Littlest Birds” by the Be Good Tanyas to your herb salad playlist.
Sip: Try something with a bit of minerality to it as a complement to the sweet, bright salad. Some chilled sparkling water like Pelligrino or a 2012 Patelin de Tablas Blanc from Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles would be delicious. I first met this wine at one of our favorite restaurants, Iris Food and Spirits, in Del Mar. The wine is a blend of four white Rhone varietals: Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Roussanne, and Marsanne. On their website, they describe it as “fruity, floral aromas of honeysuckle, apricot and candied grapefruit, with a spicy mineral note emerging with air.”
Wash and dry or spin enough mesclun for your eaters. Add fresh, chopped cilantro, basil, borage blossoms. Slice fresh carrots and radishes thinly. I used a vegetable peeler for the carrots. You could also use a mandolin or a small, sharp knife. Slice some Manchego cheese thinly and then cut it into smaller pieces. Toss all of this gently with a splash of Sicilian Lemon Vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. This could easily be a romantic dinner for two or a beautiful and simple meal for a large group. Just adjust the amount and ingredients to your group and palate. We served the salad with a piece of grilled salmon from Catalina Offshore in San Diego–bon appetit!