What do strawberries and pickles have in common? More than you’d think! In honor of spring shading (sunning?) into summer, I thought I’d try making a seasonal sweet-and-sour salad by tossing together strawberries and pickles. Roasted asparagus and Romaine lettuce provided the backdrop, and a creamy Dijon dressing tied it all together. It’s simple and quick … and a springtime embodiment of a beloved Chinese food principle.
A note on the dressing: the creaminess comes from hard-boiled egg yolks. If you don’t have eggs on hand or don’t want to hard-boil them, you can skip using the yolks. The eggs are a nice touch, though – both for the creaminess they add and the fact that they act as an emulsifier to help convince the oil and vinegar to stick together – so I think it’s worth hard-boiling them. Besides, hard-boiled eggs can hang out in your fridge for a solid week, just waiting for an opportune breakfast or snack moment.
Spring-Into-Summer Salad with Strawberries, Asparagus & Pickles
Serves 2. Recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.
Asparagus stalks (anywhere from 1/2 lb. to 1 lb.), their tough ends snapped off
2 eggs, preferably from pastured hens
Romaine lettuce, chopped
Pickles, chopped (I vastly prefer dill to sweet, but either would work)
Strawberries, preferably organic (conventional strawberries are heavily sprayed), sliced
1 to 2 tsp. Dijon mustard, depending on how much you like mustard
1 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Lay the asparagus out on the covered sheet and drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and toss gently with your hands to season the stalks. Roast for 20 minutes or until stalks are turning golden brown and are shriveling. (Very thin stalks might only take 15 minutes; thick stalks could take up to 30.)
While the asparagus is roasting, slip the eggs into a medium-sized pot and fill with enough water to cover them. Cover the pot and place it on high heat. As soon as the water comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Immediately pull eggs off the stove and top off the pot with cold water. Pour out all of the water and refill with cold water. Let the eggs sit for at least 5 minutes in the cold water to cool them. Prompt and thorough chilling is crucial to keep the yolk from blackening around the edges! (Still tastes fine, but blackened/grayish egg yolks don’t look particularly appealing.)
As soon as the eggs are cool to the touch, cut them in half so that you can scoop out the yolks. Slip the yolks into a bowl. Chop the whites and toss the whites with the roasted asparagus, the chopped Romaine, the chopped pickles, and the sliced strawberries.
To make the dressing, mash the yolks with a fork and stir in the mustard, vinegar, and oil. Toss well with salad before serving, or serve the dressing on the side in case you think you’ll have leftover salad that you’d like to keep for the next day.