Atlanta’s farmers markets may be just getting going, but the spring vegetable season is winding down. With the hot weather we’ve had the past couple of days, you can expect those lovely lettuce heads you've seen at market to disappear quickly.
Sure, some farmers will continue to grow lettuce for a few more weeks, and a few hard-core types (especially those with hoop houses or other means of creating shade) will keep heat-tolerate salad mixes going well into summer. But most are focusing their attention on summer crops, like peppers, okra and tomatoes (yes, they’re starting to come in), and on planting late-summer crops like melons. They’re harvesting the last of their lettuce now, before the heat causes it to turn bitter and tough.
So on your next trip to your nearest farmers market, grab up those tender heads of lettuce while you can. Pick up some carrots, radishes, and baby sweet onions to go with them, too. Make a simple, on-the-spot dressing to highlight your super-fresh ingredients. These are the last of our salad days.
Lemon Anchovy Dressing
Try this dressing on chicories (radicchio, endive, escarole) or romaine type lettuces. —From David Tanis’ “A Platter of Figs.”
6 anchovy fillets
½ cup milk
4 garlic cloves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Rinse the anchovy fillets in a bowl of warm water, the soak in the milk for 15 minutes to mellow. Remove the anchovies from the milk and blot on paper towels. Discard milk.
Using a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic with the anchovies. Add a little salt to help create a paste. Add a little finely chopped lemon zest, the juice of half the lemon, and a splash of champagne vinegar. Stir in the mustard and, gradually, the olive oil, until you have a thick vinaigrette. Check the seasoning, and correct with lemon juice, salt, and/or pepper. The dressing should be zesty but not too acidic.
Spicy Mustard Dressing
Perfect for a simple tossed spring salad. —From “Veganomicon” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero
¼ cup prepared spicy, smooth mustard
3 tablespoons grapeseed (or olive) oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, oil, vinegar and maple syrup.
A simple standard from Deborah Madison’s “Local Flavors.”
1 crisp new garlic clove
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons aged red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
6 to 8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Peel and coarsely chop the garlic. Pound it in a mortar with a scant ½ teaspoon salt until puree-smooth. Stir in the vinegars, the whisk in the oil, tasting after 6 tablespoons. Season with pepper.
Strawberry Lime Vinaigrette
Got a few strawberries in your fridge that have missed their prime? It’s a shame to let a single local berry go to waste, so cut away any unacceptable spots and use the rest in this bright dressing for tender young greens. (You can toss the better-looking berries into the salad, too.)
Sad-looking strawberries, hulls and bad spots discarded (any amount)
Juice of 1/2 lime, plus some of the zest
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
½ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon honey or granulated sugar
3 tablespoons light oil
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
In a food processor, puree the berries (or mash with a fork in a bowl), then press through a sieve into a bowl. Stir in the lime juice, a generous pinch of the zest, vinegar, and ½ teaspoon honey or sugar. Whisk in the oil. Season with salt and pepper; taste and adjust with salt, pepper and/or honey or sugar.