Thursday, April 30, 2015

Scratch and Sniff Heaven

I am making my list leaving plenty of room for impulse buys. I have made sure that my calendar in clear for the morning. It is so hard for me not to be too anxious, anticipating tomorrow. The Asheville Herb Festival begins tomorrow, sunny skies and warm temperatures are guaranteed, and this year I have a new garden with plenty of empty space. Last year, on my first visit, I was more of a voyeur with a wish list. The farmer selling mitsuba and shiso, which was able to go home with me, also had wasabi. The new house has a stream running through it where I have already planted watercress and ostrich fern is about to get another roommate. I am chomping at the bit to see if I can manage growing wasabi; stashed away, a shagreen wasabi grater I have had since living in Tokyo is ready to come out of retirement.

I love farmer’s markets, no great revelation, and all those brilliant vegetables and fruits I come across. However, it is the employment of herbs and spices that increases the pleasure of a dish: peas are taken
to another level with the simple addition of mint and summer savory should be as basic in your repertoire as parsley and thyme. So, heading to an event dedicated to olfactory satisfaction is pure nirvana. Even with more than fifteen herbs growing around the house, there is always room for more. 

 Bread Salad  - serves 6 to 8
3 cups of cubed bread – from crusty Italian peasant loaf or baguette
2 garlic cloves – crushed to a pasted
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
1-cup extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
1 pint yellow cherry tomatoes - halved
1 hot house cucumber - ¾” diced
1 small red onion - sliced thinly
3 celery stalks - ¾” diced
1-cup fresh peas
5 scallions - diced
2 bunches arugula - washed and roughly chopped
1-cup torn sorrel leaves
2-tablespoons pine nuts - toasted
½-cup torn mint leaves
¼-cup red wine vinegar

Spread the bread cubes on a baking tray and dry out in a 250-degree for about 10 minutes. Do not allow the bread cubes to develop too much color, but dry out.

Place the vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper in a food processor and pulse. Pour in the oil and process till smooth.

Toss all ingredients together making sure to distribute the dressing thoroughly.  Serve.

If you want you can assemble the components of the salad up to 24 hours in advance.  Keep the bread and dressing separate until you are ready to serve. 

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