This eye-popping salad is not a recipe, but rather an individual work of art that expresses your own creative interpretation of springtime. It is as delicious to eat as it is beautiful to look at. And with fresh greens, herbs, vegetables, and Gulf shrimp layered into an edible canvas painted with a tangy Creole mustard vinaigrette, this Spring Harvest Salad will be the masterpiece on your Acadiana table.
You’ve got to love Louisiana cuisine. With our exceptional Gulf seafood, unique smoked sausages, roux-based gumbos, and spicy jambalaya, our Cajun and Creole dishes have a worldwide following. And if you are a follower of my Acadiana Table, you will pick up on my passion for writing about Louisiana’s celebrated culinary culture. But in the springtime, the heavy and hearty dishes of fall and winter give way to farm-fresh ingredients that blossom and spring onto the dinner tables of both homes and restaurants.
In the South, we are blessed with short winters, and by the beginning of April, fresh vegetables begin showing up. It is my favorite time of year in Acadiana. To celebrate the coming of spring and the emergence of new and exciting ingredients that grace the tables of Acadiana, I’ve sourced fresh local products into a simple, yet splendid salad–the lighter side of Cajun cooking. This Spring Harvest Salad recipe is a free-form salad that can take on endless variations depending on your access to quality fresh ingredients. Think of it as a work of art–a large white ceramic platter as your canvas, and paint on the vibrantly delicious colors of spring.
Colorful micro-greens (look for an assortment of varieties at the farmers market or your green grocer) and a variety of homegrown and heirloom tomatoes are at the base of my salad, so be sure to build your Spring Harvest Salad with that foundation. The textural contrast of crisp radishes and the spice of tangy red onion are essential for balance in this dish. Get creative. Edible primrose flowers pop colorfully in this dish and have a taste much like mild lettuce. I found them at my local market, but you may already have edible flowers (pansies, perhaps) in your garden. And importantly, be sure to improvise with this artistic salad; it should be an expression of the freshest garden ingredients available.
For me, embracing a change of season is richly rewarding. With this Spring Harvest Salad, I invite you to support area growers by locally sourcing all of your ingredients and celebrate fresh farm-to-table eating.
- 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon honey
- 2 tablespoons Creole mustard or coarse grain mustard
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 dozen medium Louisiana Gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cups loosely packed spring mix salad greens
- 2 large ripe red tomatoes, sliced
- 2 large ripe yellow tomatoes, sliced
- 1 medium red onion, peeled and sliced into rings
- 1 cup thinly sliced radish
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh dill fronds
- ½ cup loosely packed alfalfa sprouts
- 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, stems removed
- 1 dozen small primrose flowers or any colorful edible flower
- 1 (14-ounce) jar mild whole piquanté peppers, such as Peppadew
- 1 (8-ounce) package soft goat cheese
- In a small mixing bowl, add the vinegar, lemon juice, and honey along with the mustard. While whisking, drizzle olive oil into the container until it begins to emulsify. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Cover and refrigerate.
- In a mixing bowl, add the shrimp and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Once sizzling, add the shrimp and sauté just until they turn pink, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove and keep warm.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the salad greens. Toss with just enough of the vinaigrette to coat the leaves. On a large platter, add the salad mixture.
- Begin building the salad by evenly distributing the tomatoes, onions, and radish. Sprinkle the dill fronds and alfalfa sprouts over the salad. Place the basil leaves and flowers in various places on the salad.
- Remove the peppers; fill each with a portion of the goat cheese by stuffing it into the cavity; and place strategically around the salad platter.
- Lightly drizzle the platter with the dressing. Season with a sprinkle of kosher salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper.
- For serving, I recommend presenting the platter in the center of the table with individual plates and the remaining vinaigrette on the side so guests can spoon over as much as they like.
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