This salad can be adapted for just about any assortment of fresh vegetables, but for optimal results, try to create a contrast of flavors and textures.
Yield: serves 6-8
- 1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1⁄2 cup pine nuts
- 6 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 2 lb. fresh peas, shelled to yield 2 cups
- 1⁄2 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1″–2″ pieces
- 1 bunch watercress, washed and chopped
- 3 bunches mâche, washed and trimmed (or 1 head baby bibb lettuce, washed and torn into pieces)
- Leaves from 1 bunch celery
- 3 small stalks celery, sliced paper-thin
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and finely chopped
- 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
- 4 scallions, white parts only, finely chopped
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat a small amount of the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add pine nuts and cook, stirring, until brown, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
- Return skillet to heat and, if necessary, add more oil. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 15 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
- Meanwhile, char pepper over a flame or under a broiler, turning to blacken all over. Place in a paper bag, close, and steam 15 minutes. Rub off skin, cut in half, remove core and seeds, and dice. Set aside.
- Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add peas and green beans, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook briefly so that both peas and beans retain a little crunch, about 4 minutes. Drain in colander and stop the cooking by running under cold water. Pat dry.
- Combine pine nuts, shallots, pepper, peas, beans, watercress, mâche, celery leaves, celery, fennel, basil, parsley, and scallions in a large salad bowl. Mix together lemon juice and remaining oil in a small mixing bowl and drizzle over salad. Toss well and season to taste with salt and pepper.