Farmers Markets all around had been showing off the lovely colors of Spring/April vegetables: pinks, greens and yellow, all perfect for the Easter week-end.
With plans to get together with Friends for Easter Sunday Brunch, I took my cues from all the colors and freshness around me. Starting with this beautiful wild watercress which I was thrilled to find and was the start of a salad idea. I also picked those large-size radishes, which I was told were more pungent than their smaller counterparts and were great for braising. I had at home a few organic carrots and celery stalks so the braising idea sounded perfect.
The day of, I started with the braised vegetables. A whole bunch of radishes was diced (I kept the leaves for some other use), along with 3 medium carrots and a few celery stalks (about 3, close to the center) and celery leaves.
The carrots were sautéed first, in a bit of olive oil, and joined by the radishes until some caramelization had been achieved.
The celery was then added, and the mix was seasoned with salt, pepper and a pinch of dried thyme.
The stove was set on very low and the vegetables were left to braise under a heavy lid until tender (about 15'). They actually cooked in their own juices but you can add a bit of water before putting the lid on. I then let them rest, lid off. Meanwhile, I prepared the salad starting with the watercress.
Sunflower sprouts (a good handful), shelled english peas (about 1lb wish shells), chopped collard greens flowers (1/3 bunch), snow peas (another good handful), parsley and asparagus (4 to 5 large ones, rough stems off), and thinly sliced chive sprigs were added to the mix.
To make the salad extra crunchy and healthy, raw pumpkin seeds were thrown in.
When making the dressing, I wanted something creamy and went for the following: olive oil, juice of half a lemon, about 1/4c raw cashew nuts, 1 tbsp mustard, a dash maple syrup, rice vinegar, salt and pepper, all blended until smooth in the blender (the ratio of oil to acid I leave up to your tastes but 2 - or a bit less with other ingredients like nuts - to 1 is about right for me). Veggies and dressing were all well mixed together and sprinkled with additional thinly sliced chives to finish.
To finish the braised vegetables I chopped some parsley and roasted pistachios which I sprinkled over the dish.
I served these dishes with some poached/sunny side up pasture raised eggs - a poaching that went dry and ended up with some olive oil to finish cooking. :) (that turned out really well!) The plate was so fresh, colorful and flavorful. We had a lovely and tasty Easter brunch...
By the way:
- Braising is a great technique that preserves a lot of flavors and keeps a lot of nutrients in while needing little fat. It made the braised vegetables a healthy alternative to regular fried hashes (if that is what you are looking for :)).
- The pasture-raised eggs really are worth going after, for humane, sustainability and taste reasons. More on pasture-raised hens in a post about a farm tour organized by CUESA I recently attended hopefully soon. The egg used here is from the farm I visited during that tour (Rolling Oaks Ranch) but there are many great vendors at all Farmers Markets (like Tamarack Hollow Farms and Mills Valley at NYC GreenMarkets) so check yours!
- All dishes naturally gluten- and dairy-free.