Spring as I keep on telling anyone who will listen, has nor yet sprung and I am ready for it! Since I don't feel like paying $4.99 for a bunch of asparagus and have no access to my usual spring stalwarts of nettles, ramps and fiddlehead fern, I came up with this non-traditional spring salad instead. It looks the part with its bright greens and white, but is made with items that you can find in the produce section throughout the year.
1/2 small head of broccoli, broken into florets
1 Cubanelle, or other non-spicy green chili pepper
1 leek, white part only, cut into rings and washed well
1 large handful mixed greens
1/4 cup crushed Feta cheese
1 small tomatillo
3 dates, seeds removed, 2 of them cut into quarters lengthwise.
2 tsps rice wine vinegar
2 tsps + 2 tsps olive oil
Salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 450.
Place the broccoli florets, the pepper and the husked whole tomatillo on a parchment paper baking tray. Lightly salt and drizzle with two teaspoons of the olive oil. Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the broccoli and pepper are charred in places and the tomatillo is soft. Remove the tray from the oven and set aside.
While it is cooking steam the leek rings or place them in a glass of water in the microwave and zap them for two minutes. Set aside until needed.
Place the tomatillo in the blender along with the whole date, the remaining olive oil and the rice wine vinegar. Blitz until as smooth as possible. Taste for seasoning.
Remove the pepper from the tray. Peel off as much skin as possible and cut into strips.
Place the mixed greens in the bottom of an individual salad bowl. Tip in the broccoli florets and any juices in the pan. Add the pepper strips. the leek rings and the date pieces.
Toss with the dressing and top with the Feta cheese pieces.