Thursday, May 24, 2012

Spring Onion Potato Salad

Spring Onion Potato Salad

Spring Onion Potato Salad

What started out as an innocent mention by my friends, Jen, Scott and Evie Lynch, at La Fortuna Pizza, has become an obsession: spring onion puree.They were demonstrating a delicious and simple grilled flatbread (not a true pizza)--perfect for us mortals who lack 900-degree pizza ovens (recipe forthcoming in August Madison Magazine). They casually topped one flatbread with pesto, grilled tomatoes and cheese, and the other with a spring onion puree, grilled asparagus and shaved parmesan.

I was immediately drawn to the simplicity of the toppings, and the variety of flavors they combined.  I took a bite of the asparagus-onion flatbread and tasted the sweetness of the onions combined with the salty-sharp cheese and the crunchy, roasted asparagus stalks.

Wait. What is that? Total mouth bliss. Oh, just a puree of sauteed spring onions--really any tender Allium you have around. The flavor is sublime. It is sweet, pungent, and deep. The biting onion and garlic notes are buried during cooking, and a sweetness is unearthed. It needs a bright note, Scott casually mentioned. Really? It is perfection. I am amazed, inspired and excited that such benign ingredients simply sauteed can taste so full. Oh, wait is that umami? 

Spring Onion Puree
 Ahh, my English term--mouth bliss. I went home and immediately made some, picking wild ramp leaves, chives, green onion tops from my yard. I sauteed them in a bit of olive oil, blended them with a pinch of salt and more oil, and then  though: A bright note? If you say so, Scott. What about Oxalis, or wood sorel (remember that citric clover-like leaf you used to nibble as a kid?)? I grabbed a small handful (weeding the garden never felt so productive) and threw it in.

To. Die. For. I kid you not. I have it on eggs, on pasta, in soup, but my favorite way, aside from topping a flatbread, is in a potato salad. Fair warning friends, I will go on and on about this amazing spring onion puree. Or you could make some and then we can go on about it together. I urge you to try this puree before the impending summer gets the best of our spring. Enough said.
Spring Onion Potato Salad:
about 8 small new potatoes, washed, cubed with skin on
olive oil
2 heaping tbsp spring onion puree (see below)
½ cup sauteed fresh garden greens (1-1.5 cup fresh), drained
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
Cube and roast potatoes with skin on in foil with oil and salt to taste about 40 minutes, 20 each side until skin is browned in some spots and potatoes are tender.
Dump them on a bowl.
Add the sauteed, drained greens.
Add puree, a touch more salt if needed and fresh chives.
Eat. Bliss.
Onion Puree:
large handful of green onion-ey type things. (I used wild ramp leaves, chives and green onions)
olive oil
2 small bunches ( a small loose handful) wood sorel
Chop and sautee onions in oil for about 4 min, stirring often. Do not let them burn!
Dump in food processor and add more oil and pulse to make a spread like pesto. Add a pinch of salt to taste and fresh sorel. Pulse again until coarsely pureed.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Breakfast of (Local) Champions

Cereal has never been considered a "real" breakfast in my house. Growing up, cereal was an after-school snack. Breakfast wasn't fancy or anything, but often savory and filling--toaster "pizza" (tomato sauce and mozzarella on toast), chipped beef on toast, grilled cheese, or poached or scrambled eggs.

I still love eggs for breakfast, and thanks to my generous hens, have fresh eggs almost daily (though their production has slowed quite a bit since last fall.). I often try to add cooked veggies, either to a scramble or tucked into an omelet.
Salad for breakfast!

Recently my husband got on an egg-sandwich kick. He puts a fried egg on a bagel or English muffin, topped with cheese, pickles and wilted spinach--and of course a dash of hot sauce. In my feeble attempt to lighten up the breakfast sandwich, I left out the bagel, and added more greens (I also added in a vinaigrette dressing and some bacon, go figure:), making something of a fried egg salad.

My favorite rendition of the breakfast salad was one I created for a recent article in Madison Magazine featuring Madison's incredible Dane County Farmer's Market, the largest producer-only farmer's market in the country. This version of a breakfast salad features asparagus, mushrooms, bacon and tender greens. Almost every ingredient, aside from a few dressing ingredients, are locally produced. And it is great for breakfast or dinner. (Or breakfast in bed for Mom:)

Farmer's Market Breakfast Salad
Salad ingredients:
8 slices bacon
2 tbsp oil
10 stalks asparagus
8 mushrooms, sliced
8 cups fresh mixed greens
4 eggs
About 4 oz grated hard cheese, such as Parmesan (try Sartori’s Espresso BellaVitano for a real breakfast treat)

Dressing ingredients:
2 tbsp bacon drippings
1 large shallot, thinly chopped
2 tbsp oil (try Driftless Organics sunflower oil)
2 tbsp champagne vinegar
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp sugar
Pinch salt

Place bacon on cookie sheet and put in oven preheated to 400 degrees. Cook bacon until crispy, about 10–14 minutes. Remove and drain on towel. Reserve about 2 tbsp bacon drippings. Chop bacon into small pieces and set aside.
To make dressing, heat reserved bacon drippings in small skillet. Add shallot and cook briefly until soft about 1–2 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and place in bowl, along with the oil from the skillet. Add sunflower oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar and salt and stir. Set aside.
Meanwhile sauté asparagus and mushroom slices with a pinch of salt over medium heat until just softened.
Evenly divide greens between plates and top with sauteed veggies and bacon bits.
Heat a skillet with oil/more drippings to fry the eggs,
ideally leaving yolks a bit runny. Top each salad with an egg, some grated parmesan and dressing.

Enjoy with fresh bread!