Friday, December 18, 2015

How Green Was My Salad? (With Creamy Basil & Avocado Dressing)

A green salad? In December? Heresy!

I realize that today's post might seem incongruous during this festive winter season, but giant piles of raw veggies - which my sister hilariously refers to as "mast" - feature on our table year round. More to the point, the bizarrely fine weather we've been enjoying makes leafy greens at least as appealing a vision as sugar plums and gingerbread.

And so I present my recreation of/improvement upon one of my standard restaurant favorites: the "pea diddy" salad at Somerville's Five Horses Tavern, minus the ubiquitous cheese found in the original, and with the addition of a few more vegetables. One of the things I love about this dish is that it is entirely, completely, and unapologetically green: light, dark, and bright greens, all mixed together in a fragrant, beautifully green dressing. Indeed, with nary a tomato, carrot, or beet in sight, this salad would be right at home at a banquet in the Emerald City, and as we approach the solstice and the return of the sun, this optimistic sentiment seems especially appropriate.

The Salad
~ Mixed greens (a mix of baby kale, romaine, and arugula is nice)
~ 1 cup broccoli florets
~ 1 cup asparagus spears, cut into 1" pieces
~ ¾ cup fresh or frozen peas
~ ¾ cup shelled edamame
~ 1.5 cups pea shoots

~ In a vegetable steamer (or a pot of boiling water), cook the broccoli, asparagus, and peas very briefly, until just bright green; this should only take 2-3 minutes, tops. Drain, rinse immediately with cold water to stop further cooking, and turn out onto a clean tea towel to dry.
~ In a large bowl, toss the broccoli, asparagus, peas, pea shoots, and edamame with the leafy greens. Cover the salad and chill in the refrigerator while you make the dressing.

The Dressing
~ 1 perfectly ripe Haas avocado
~ 2 cloves garlic
~ 1 generously packed cup fresh basil, rough chop
~ ¼ cup fresh lime juice
~ ½ cup each: water, unsweetened plain soy milk
~ ¼ cup nutritional yeast
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, prepared mustard, vegan Worcestershire sauce
~ A few grinds black pepper

~ Place the avocado, garlic, basil, and lime juice in a food processor or blender and puree for about a minute.
~ With the machine running, gradually add the remaining ingredients and puree until you have a smooth, vibrantly green mixture. If the dressing seems too thick, add a little more water to get the consistency you want.
~ Drizzle the desired amount of dressing over the chilled salad, toss, and serve. Alternatively, you can plate the salad and dress servings individually. Either way, you'll likely have some dressing left over, which should be stored in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.

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