This here salad is made entirely from things that survived the winter and are now roaring back. Some stuff–I’m talking to you, Asian cabbage–is just bolting and bitter, but the mizuna, pan di zucchero, and radicchio are lovely. There’s a bit of chervil, too, and parsley, and I cut all the tatsoi too since it was thinking about flowering.
Now I love a good bowl of greens; there’s nothing quite so soul-polishing as a perfect salad. But the difference between just-picked and even the good, local, organic mesclun? Is night and day. Bitter, sweet, chewy, yielding, a little spicy, and with all of those qualities echoed and amplified by quality oil and vinegar, and heightened still further by the joy of spring’s timely arrival–I ate the living shit out of this salad.
In keeping with the gardeny theme, the rest of the meal was a roast chicken with sautéed kale and freshly-dug carrots and parsnips roasted with oil and herbs. I resist digging parsnips in the fall so we have something sweet and wonderful to enjoy as soon as the ground thaws. And last year my second planting of carrots actually grew quite well, so we have a lot of those, too, which I’m pulling up to make room for new things.
The only other noteworthy thing about this is the gravy; I used kimchi brine along with some of the pork stock to make it, and it was pretty great. I’m finding more and more ways to use it in place of citrus, often with superior results: gravy, mayonnaise, vinaigrettes, ceviche, tuna salad. So now every time I put a fresh batch into jars, I make sure to fill a quart jar with just brine so there’s plenty on hand. It’s more nutritious, it’s free, and it doesn’t go bad.