It hailed yesterday.
I’m sure this might not seem odd to some of you — those who live in colder climes, those who seek out such weather, or those who live on top of a really tall, and perpetually snow capped, mountain. But to me, in Southern Ontario, where daffodils are proudly lifting their golden heads and blossoms are blooming, hail was not what I expected on the second day of May.
I should probably explain something. I don’t like cold. Yes, I know, Canada. I have no problem with winter, per se; I love having my hands wrapped around a mug of hot chocolate, I cannot get enough of the smell of evergreen and I wish I could capture the magic of the world under a blanket of snow. Furthermore, let me tell you, I am nothing short of adorable in a snappy parka and mitts combo. But, I hate the state of being cold.
Yesterday was a crisp and gorgeous day, with blue skies and that amazing smell of damp soil, all herbaceous and green. It was like the landscape was about to burst. But instead, the skies did. Not a little hail, but a veritable avalanche of hail (I may be exaggerating a bit). Either way, it was pinging off sidewalks, pinging off of windows and pinging off my not-at-all-suitable-for-this-sort-of-freak-weather spring jacket.
By the time I got home, my hair was matted and wet, my teeth were chattering and I was not amused in the least. And, I was cold. After some general pouting about the unfairness of it all, I found solace at the bottom of a bowl of miso soup and some green tea. The world started to slowly become right again.
Today has brought lower than seasonal temperatures, overcast skies and a 40% chance of rain. And yet, I’m somehow rejuvenated. The daffodils are still outside my window, market stalls are starting to fill with local produce, and spring doesn’t seem too far away. There must have been something magical in that miso. I’m completely prepared to wait.
But that won’t stop me from conjuring the season with food.
This salad simply tastes like spring. With bright and clear flavours, you can’t help but be happy when you eat it. Ever since delectable posts on the topic of asparagus started popping up with the crocuses, I have been nothing short of obsessed with roasting it. This recipe makes use of leftovers from a staple meal in our house: roasted potatoes, salmon and asparagus, with variations on aioli. I have now taken to purposely making too much salmon and asparagus, just to guarantee tomorrow’s lunch.
Spring salmon salad with roasted asparagus
My own creation, but inspired by the chickpea salad from Bistro by Laura Washburn
All quantities are simply guidelines — I usually make this salad with whatever I have on hand
3/4 cup diced zucchini
3/4 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup diced roasted red pepper
1/2 cup diced roasted yellow pepper
1/3 cup julienned sundried tomatoes
1 tablespoon capers, chopped roughly (left whole if small)
Handful of snow peas, blanched and julienned
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, whole (simply picked from stems)
1/2 cup parsely leaves, whole (simply picked from stems)
5 roasted asparagus spears, cut into ½ inch lengths, approximately 1/2 cup
8 ounces roasted salmon filet
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small shallot, minced
Zest from 1/2 a lemon
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Combine all salad ingredients, except salmon, in bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together rice wine vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, shallot and lemon zest. Drizzle in oil, whisking constantly.
Pour as much vinaigrette as you’d like over the salad, tossing to coat.
Flake the salmon filet, add to salad and gently combine. If you toss too enthusiastically the salmon will continue to flake — I like to add the salmon last, so that I can preserve larger pieces.
• Omit capers and salmon from above recipe. Add one can of chickpeas and a 1/2 cup of crumbled feta to the salad instead. For the vinaigrette, replace the rice wine vinegar with red wine vinegar, and add 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon oregano and a 1/3 teaspoon of ground cumin.
• Omit capers and sundried tomatoes from above recipe. For the herbs use only cilantro and add in one finely sliced red chili. Replace the vinaigrette with one made with 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, a few drops of toasted sesame oil, 2 teaspoons fish sauce, 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce and 2 teaspoons Chinese chili-garlic sauce. Just before serving, sprinkle a tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds over entire salad.