farmers’ market mondays: spring vegetable salad + honey lime vinaigrette.

Welcome again to Farmers’ Market Mondays. I should also say thank you; thank you for getting super excited about FMM. I’ve already had a great time searching for recipe ideas I can build on and rummaging through tables and tables of fresh produce, and it’s only week two. It’s also really nice to get back in the habit of eating like I should be eating, with my refrigerator and pantry stuffed to the gills with non-sugar-related items. It’s about time, people. These last few months have been busy, and I’ve let my normally healthy eating habits fall by the wayside. It hit me a few weeks ago when I realized it was 10 am, and the only thing I had had to eat was 2 cups of coffee and some buttercream frosting I was busy making and testing. Embarrassing.

I’ve decided to try going to a different farmers’ market around the area each week for my little food journey. I don’t know what it’s like by you, but around here, some are big, and some are little. Some are brand new this year, and some have been there since seemingly the dawn of time.

This week, I wanted to try a brand new one in the area: The Lake Saint Louis Farmers & Artists Market. It’s near where I live, and has only been open for a few weeks, but I’ve heard good things. It’s on the smaller end of things, but that’s to be expected from a brand new market. I was not disappointed; I found a big variety of exactly the spring vegetables I was looking for, and I even managed to pick up some peach jam and baked-that-morning focaccia before I left.

I had been thinking about what to make you this week, going back and forth about what veggies to look for, what type of thing I should do, and so forth. I was nervous I wouldn’t find everything I needed. I was wrong: I found everything and then some. So here’s what you get this week: a beautiful, spring vegetable salad with a fresh, easy honey-lime vinaigrette. Now, I warned you; these posts won’t be as long as the normal ones, but I thought you’d want to dive right into this salad.

The honey-lime vinaigrette: four ingredients plus salt and pepper, if you want it, to taste. I even used a local honey i keep on hand at all times, just especially for things like this. Also the random hot buttered biscuit, but we’re not talking about that.

To make things even more idyllic than just shopping for everything directly from actual farmers, people, I sat outside on Sunday morning chopping the asparagus and mandoline-ing the beets. In the grass. On a picnic blanket. Chopping fresh veggies which, not days before, had been in the earth. I’d say it was because I wanted to commune with nature, but mostly it was because the Wee One really wanted to get outside for a good backyard runaround. And so we did.

The ingredients which came from the market this week were asparagus, beets, and radishes. I purchased some lettuces, but I wasn’t super happy with their flavor enmeshed with the rest of these flavors, so the arugula (along with the limes) were purchased at a locally owned grocery store; in fact, the one I am at almost daily and have been shopping (with my mom) at since I was teeny-tiny. Both the honey and the parmesan cheese are produced locally as well.

Is there anything prettier than a beet? I don’t think so. I’m a beet fanatic, and this salad gave me the opportunity to eat them in a way I never have before; raw. What you see above you is a little addition I like to call “wow; homemade baked beet chips are a crazy good salad topping.” They are completely optional to the salad, but were a wonderful replacement for a crouton. Word of warning: they don’t stay crunchy indefinitely; I noticed mine were softer (yet managed to maintain their salty deliciousness) by nightfall.

If you do choose to make them, I suggest watching them closely. I sliced my beets almost paper-thin for the salad and for the chips, and I loved them that way. Variation in thickness, will result in different cooking times than what I’ve given you below. Thankfully, beet chips give you some good warning signs before going from crispy to scorched, so please don’t just throw them in and walk away from the oven, unless you want to do them twice. Or unless you’re some sort of beet chip savant, in which case I suppose you can do what you want. After all, who am I to say anything to a beet savant.

Another tip: don’t slice your radishes until it’s time to assemble the salads. They only take a few seconds, and slicing them ahead of time can lead to weird discoloration. To keep them bright and white, run your knife through as many as you need right before serving.

I know I’ve said this before, but it is almost laughably difficult for me to give quantities for salads. Why? Because I think you could make ten salads for ten people, and everyone would like theirs a little bit different from the person next to them. Please use my measurements as guidelines and not law; rules are meant to be broken. Recipes which don’t involve specific fat-to-flour ratios are meant to be toyed with. Toy, people; toy.

Adapted for several different spring salad recipes. If I had to name my biggest influence, it would be this salad from Bon Appetit.

Spring Vegetable Salad + Honey Lime Vinaigrette

for the honey-lime vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2-3 limes)
  • 1/4 cup good quality honey
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup good extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

for the salad:

  • 1 bunch (3-4) red beets*, sliced very thin (using a mandoline is preferred)
  • 1 pound asparagus, peeled and cut thinly on the diagonal, heads reserved for another use
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 6-8 good-sized radishes (see photo for what i deem “good-sized”)
  • 3-4 ounces arugula or baby arugula
  •  1/2 cup parmesan cheese, tipped with a thin knife into small, bite size chunks** (or freshly grated, if you prefer)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • a little olive oil for tossing beets

*note: if you’re not making the beet chips, that’s completely okay, but you’ll have extra beets. An alternative: thinly slice all but one of your beets, then roast it with olive oil and some sea salt to use for a different meal. I’m just not into wasting beets, because I love them.

**another note: if you’ve never chunked off parmesan, it’s easy. find a thin, pointy knife, place the big parmesan on a piece of parchment, and drive the knife gently downward into the cheese, pulling sideways to “pull” chunks off as you go. You’re going for rustic, here; not uniform chunks. Don’t like parmesan? A dry, crumbly goat cheese would be lovely in this in its place.

first things first:

take your sliced asparagus and throw it in a bowl which will fit it, squeeze the juice of one lime over the asparagus, cover, and refrigerate. I thought this did a nice job of holding the asparagus without drying it out, and it lends a nice flavor to it once the salad is ready to assemble.

make your dressing:

in a medium bowl, whisk together the lime juice, honey, and cumin. Drizzle in the olive oil slowly, whisking continually and allowing it to emulsify. Add salt and pepper to taste, and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

make your beet chips (optional):

Preheat your oven to 350˚F. Take as many beet chips as you’d like (I reserved about 3/4 of a beet because I wanted some to snack on, but you do as many as you think you’ll be using) and place them in a bowl. Drizzle some olive oil over them, and using your hands, toss the beet chips carefully to coat. Remember, beets will dye hands, so I suggest using plastic gloves. Place them on an unlined baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt.

Place on a middle rack in your oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes. I can’t say it enough, but this truly depends on how thinly you sliced your beets; please refer to photos above for an example of mine. if yours are like mine, 15 minutes should work. At the 10-minute mark, check them. Watch them carefully at this point. When they’re ready to be done, they lighten and get ruffly around the edges. Remove them immediately. Beet chips will crisp up when cool. Allow to cool completely before using on your salad.

Here’s why I want to warn you about beet chips: I totally screwed my first batch up because I used what I thought would be a reliable recipe, which had me placing baking sheet upon baking sheet, baking for 20 minutes, then baking for another 20 minutes. When I removed the baking sheet at the 20-minute mark, they were black as night. Burnt beyond recognition. This, combined with what I know about how long whole beets can take to roast, is why I can’t warn you enough to watch your chips. You’ll thank me silently when your kitchen doesn’t smell like burnt toast.

make your salad:

Really, this is about assembly and that’s it. Slice your radishes thinly with a knife into disks; set aside. Take your raw beet slices and arrange them on the bottom of your plate, covering out ward almost to the edge. it’s basically a plate of beets on your plate. Throw a handful of arugula onto the top, just so you can see the edges of the beets.

Drain the excess lime juice from your asparagus, toss the radish slices in, and toss together until mixed. Pile as much as you’d like on top of your arugula. Add some of the parmesan chunks over the top.

Retrieve your honey lime vinaigrette from the fridge and shake, shake, shake until re-incorporated. drizzle using a spoon over the salad (a little goes a long way) and season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Makes 2-3 lunch salads. Again, this completely depends on what you define as “fulfilling” in salad terms, and how you pile your ingredients.

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15 Comments on "farmers’ market mondays: spring vegetable salad + honey lime vinaigrette."

  1. So, Linda would love you. Because this has beets. And sometimes those are her dessert. Yes, I’m totally serious.

    Also, I don’t have ANY farmer’s markets around me. Yes, I’m totally serious about that too.

    I have four salads on the menu this week. Can you tell I’m, A: trying to shed the fluff and B: craving fresh things?

    Divine, dahling. You totally Shannoned the fuku outta this.

    • shannon says:

      linda and i are twin souls when it comes to beets. i also can eat them as dessert or candy if given the opportunity. I’ll need to know if she likes pickled beets. I know you’re serious; and i know she’s serious about her beets like i am.

      JEN: you don’t have farmer’s markets around you??! i’m sad. i would have thought it would be a for-sure thing. *sigh*. your tiny town needs some sort of intervention. :)

      oh, and i’m SO with you on shedding the fluff-n-stuff and craving fresh things. i’m cookied out. i’m caked out. i’ve had too many big things involving waaay-hey-hey too much butter and sugar and now I feel like i’m a butter stick.

      i. heart. funny verbs. LOTS.

  2. Willow says:

    Beautiful salad! Love the idea of chunked parmesan, instead of grated.

    Also… I am a huge fan of beet chips, but have failed horribly every time I’ve tried to make them. It seems they never get dry, and then all of a sudden they start to burn around the edges but are still very wet in the middles. I’ve always tried to do it on a lined baking sheet, though, so I’ll have to try it your way. Fingers crossed, because man… beet chips sound good right now, haha!

    • shannon says:

      thank you, willow! chunked parm is the best. i love fresh grated also, but there’s something a little luxurious about chunking it off, in my opinion. and it doesn’t get lost in the salad that way, which i also like.

      me too! i’ve had the storebought ones, and fell in love, but i’ve never made my own. the first attempt i talked about? it was ugly. they were BLACK as night. and i did notice this second batch i took out early (fearing for blackness) and they were as you described – getting done around the edges but a little soft in the middle. maybe a minute after that, they were done, ruffled, and with no burned bits. I do think putting directly on a sheet as opposed to lining it (although i think you could get away with foil as your liner) does make a difference with heat and doneness.

      and these were SO good with just a bit of sea salt. i made extras knowing they’d make a great snack…and they did. :)

  3. sara says:

    Seriously gorgeous! This salad looks like the perfect way to celebrate spring veggies!

  4. Brianne says:

    I am so inspired by this new series! I’m totally going to our farmers market this weekend–they officially kick off the summer season on Saturday, and I cannot wait!

    • shannon says:

      i’m so happy you like it! it’s inspired me, also. to try harder to eat well. and to be less around all the cookies and cakes. :) and this heading to the farmers market thing at least once weekly has got me really excited, too. here’s to both of us having luck (and continued luck) with finding beautiful produce this summer and fall. yay!

  5. Here’s the thing: you’re making my life WAY easier. I’m always on the hunt for new dressings and salad combinations. Especially dressings. Sifting through dozens of recipes, looking for that one I found that looked good, but now can’t find again. But now I don’t have to. I’ll just use the recipes you post here. Which gives me enough time to work on some different projects, like CCSL (Canadian Cat Sign Language). And making my house look less like a bomb went off. Thank you. (Canadian cats thank you too.)

    • shannon says:

      i can’t lie: i may be making your life easier, but this whole series is making my life way better. Here’s why: i hope you’re good at equations:
      cookies in the freezer/pantry/staring at me + hungry / my schedule = i’ll eat lots of cookies for lunch.
      chopped veggies in the fridge + homemade salad dressing x cute jars to put it in / my schedule = I’LL EAT VEGGIES FOR LUNCH!

      So, i mean, i can’t thank you enough for liking the recipes. it only encourages me to eat better. also, i’m a huge proponent of CCSL as a way to make life better for hearing-impaired cats and their friends, and also making both our houses look less like bombs went off. you’re welcome. and thank you back.

      please tell the Canadian cats i say hi in sign language. although, i suppose that’s just waving.

  6. Wow! Look how beautiful that salad looks. It exudes spring. Beet chips? Um, yes please. I love beets. Lovely work, Shannon.

    • shannon says:

      jennie, so good to hear all the beet-lovers out there weighing in on the chips! i don’t know why i’m surprised; i think there’s not a ton of beet freaks around me (except my mom). you’ll LOVE these. let me know how they go for you.

  7. I love the idea of slicing vegetables outside in the sunshine! The sunshine and warmth has finally found its way to Montana, plus the Farmer’s Market started last weekend, so life is good!! I haven’t made beet chips before, but they look wonderful. This whole salad has a quality of amazingness that I would love to try. I love the idea of Farmer’s Market Monday. I will be sure to follow this!

    • shannon says:

      sunshine in montana…i bet that has to be beautiful. and sitting outside working was pretty fun; for me and for the little one, who likes to help when she can in the kitchen, but also likes some backyard time. isn’t it nice when the markets open up for the season? it’s like produce stops looking sad and starts looking lovely again.
      and if you love beets, please try the beet chips. you’ll be making them all the time. beets are on my list for the next time i head out, because i want more.

  8. Amrita says:

    This series is exactly what I need right now in my life. I have ingested WAY TOO MANY cookies, cakes, cupcakes and whatever else baked sweets you can think of and need some detox-ing…all my fat cells are gurgling with laughter as I type this. But, I’m going to show them who’s boss and learn a couple of lessons from you, my friend! This series is going to the kick-in-the-butt reminder I need. I <3 you for that!

    • shannon says:

      amrita, it’s nice to know we’re all together in this, right? I feel like all of our sweet selves have just hit a wall…a wall of sugar. don’t let me fool you: i think about cookies and eat them more often than i like to admit, so i’m making changes right along with you. i need to make changes. so far they’ve been fun, because i like veggies (almost) as much as i like cake; i just have to find ways to make them appealing. all of you who like this series inspire ME to keep going. :) so thank you back.

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