Herb Vinaigrette and a Spring Salad Photo Shoot

Savory Recipes, Spring • 9 May 2014

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I was standing in photographer Ben Alsop’s studio recently, shelling an endless amount of fresh spring peas. A few dropped from my clutches, landing each with a tiny thud, rolling like miniature bowling balls until settling firmly into the cavernous cracks of the rustic wooden floor. I didn’t stop to collect the missing peas and continued dislodging the rest of the plump green pearls from their snug pods. What didn’t fall on the floor or end up on a shiny porcelain platter went flying into my mouth rather compulsively, the sweet snap and crunch delighting me as I worked. I had to be careful not to lose the whole mess of produce to my unwieldy fingers or hungry belly.

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I came to the studio early that morning, an abundance of produce in tow, each bag bursting with color, crispness and flavor. We spent a full day arranging and tweaking, and manipulating the languid lighting.

Our subject is beautiful, almost life-like pea shoots with tendrils wild, curled and alert; the greens are piled high with violet-toned carrots, lilac and fuchsia-hued radishes, tender crisp peas and sour red wine pickled onions. The whole thing is flecked with alabaster feta and sweet-tart kumquats. Bright green vinaigrette, comprised of a myriad of fresh vernal herbs, gently envelops the crisp, colorful spoils of spring.

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Our goal was luminosity, a silhouette of the season. We wanted to capture that magic hour of gently rippling sunlight that drapes the landscape with a practically tangible buoyancy.

Photography: Ben Alsop
Food Styling: Kate Sonders

Spring Salad with Herb Vinaigrette

1/2 medium red onion, very thinly sliced into half moons
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
4 cups pea shoots (or greens of choice), washed and thoroughly dried
1 1/2 cups freshly shelled peas
2 purple carrots, washed and peeled, thinly sliced with a mandolin
5 purple and pink radishes, washed and thinly sliced with a mandolin
1/2 cup kumquats, cut into thin rounds, seeded
4 ounces crumbled feta

Spring Herb Vinaigrette:
1 medium garlic glove, minced
1/2 small shallot, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup parsley leaves
1/4 cup basil leaves
1 tablespoon mint leaves
2 teaspoons dill
1 tablespoon chives
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Place the sliced onions in a small bowl and cover them in the vinegar. Let them sit for about a half hour, or until the salad is assembled.

2. To make the vinaigrette, add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Dressing can be made a day ahead.

3. Arrange pea shoots on a serving platter. Top with peas, carrots, radishes, kumquats, feta and pickled onions. Drizzle with dressing to taste (there will be some left over). Serve immediately.

Yield: Serves 4 as an appetizer.

3 Responses

  1. Megan

    Beautiful! Love these photos and can’t wait to try the dressing.

  2. Mark

    I love this one, Crisp writing complements the subject. And your collaboration on the photos worked really well.

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