This time of year is always exciting for me on the produce front. With Farmer’s Markets opening and farm CSA shares starting the thrill of the seasonal reveal begins. When I started my Boulder Locavore experiment four years ago to see if I could eat within a 100 mile radius the Farmer’s Market became my teacher, offering many vegetables I’d never seen let alone tasted or prepared. I made it my mission to buy something new weekly and spent a great deal of time talking with the farmers about it and how to prepare it. I realized in our farm-to-table culture, farmers who sell their wares have really become culinary guides able to suggest many ways to prepare their goods.
During the early summer I am relegated to sunrise kids swim meets prohibiting trips to the local Farmer’s Market. Fortunately we’ve have a share in a local farm, for longer than I can recall, and visit them weekly always eager to see what it in store.
When eating locally the approach to cooking is opposite of buying ingredients for recipes I’ve found. You gather what is available and then begin to fit things into recipes, or in my case pair them up for new flavors and textures. For this first week of our summer share we had Pea Shoots or Pea Tendrils, the delicate first greens of pea plants with whimsically curly shoots coming off a main stem. They are light and tender with the delicate flavor of peas. Pea shoots are short lived, a harbinger of the growing season, a mere flirtatious reminder the bounty is about to begin.
If pea shoots aren’t available you can sustitute some sprouts you sprout yourself!
As soon as we packed up our share for the week (spring greens, French radishes, pea shoots, strawberries, bok choy, and petite carrots) my mind began swirling the ingredients around considering possible matches. By the time I got home I had an idea, seemingly a risky idea but one out of the box nonetheless. I recounted it to my husband ‘Watermelon’, (he nods), ‘goat cheese’, (nods again), ‘pea shoots’, (‘yep’), ‘quick pickled radishes’, (silence), ‘and a Balsamic drizzle’ (‘hmm, not sure how that will taste but go for it’). Candidly my mental imagining is usually trustworthy but I had a question mark with this one as well.
Fortunately the flavors and textures came together in a fascinating mix of sweet, salty, earthy and tangy. I personally loved the bite of the radishes which had been quick pickled in apple cider vinegar and sugar, though I’m unsure that would be for everyone so I’ll include it as optional for the recipe. The base ingredients come together in mere minutes and will only be around for a few weeks so do enjoy!
Pea Shoot Watermelon Goat Cheese salad with Balsamic Drizzle
- 1 loose cup Pea Shoots/Tendrils
- ¾ cup Watermelon cubed (or cut into shapes with cookie cutters as I did)
- 1 ounce Goat Cheese , crumbled
- 1 ½ teaspoon Aged Balsamic Vinegar (it becomes sweeter when aged)
- OPTIONAL: 1/8 cup French Radishes , cut paper thin (suggest using a mandolin), Apple Cider Vinegar to cover radish slices and ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
Instructions to Pickle the French Radishes:
- Combine the apple cider vinegar and sugar in a small bowl; stir until sugar dissolves. Add the radish slices and set aside for 15 minutes. When ready to add to the salad, drain and combine with other ingredients.
Instructions for salad:
- On the serving plate, arrange the pea shoots to create a bed. Place watermelon over the pea shoots. Evenly distribute the goal cheese over the other ingredients. Add radish slices if desired. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the salad.