There is one thing you have to understand about living in the northern regions of Europe. The darkness during the winter is really, really harsh. Short, cold and grey days with a minimal amount of sunlight. And if you, like me, believe that you were meant to be born in either Italy, Hawaii or India, the darkness feels twice as draining. However on the upside, the Nordics are probably the most sun-appreciating people on this planet. Come the first rays of sunshine and a little bit of warm air and we throw off our clothes and spend hours standing like suricates, gazing at the sun. Well almost anyway.
That first day of spring happened earlier this weekend when we visited friends outside the city. We threw together two simple salads in celebration of all the early produce and enjoyed them as a lunch around a table in the garden, with sunshades on! Afterwards we strolled over to the neighbour farm to pet the newly born lambs and calves (Isac was first terrified and then almost impossible to get out of there). It felt like the perfect day and well-worth getting through all those dark months for. Even for an Italian/Hawaiian/Indian guy like myself.
This salad is a version of the one our friends made that day. We have shared a couple of spring salads on this blog throughout the years (asparagus & buckwheat salad – rhubarb & puy lentil salad – egg salad – green bean salad), but what makes this one stand out is the very simple and rich butter vinaigrette that is poured over the cooked new potatoes and steamed asparagus. So delicious. We have added some lentils (you can use ready-cooked if you want to save some time and effort) and sugar peas for extra protein but any type of green beans or string beans could also be delicious. With the lentil addition, this is great as a lunch or light dinner, but it would also be a perfect side salad for a weekend bbq.
For our vegan friends, we have also tried this with a few alternative dressings with great results. Either just replace the butter with olive oil. Or try a delicious Dijon dressing by stirring together equal parts Dijon mustard and maple syrup (or honey if you prefer) with a bit of lemon juice and a good glug olive oil.
Asparagus & Potato Salad with Butter Vinaigrette
The butter dressing makes this salad ideal served straight away, when the vegetables are still slightly warm.
1 1/2 lb / 800 g new potatoes
2 bunches (1 lb / 500 g) asparagus
1 cup / 100 g sugar peas
1 cup / 175 g cooked whole lentils, rinsed (we used green/brown but any color is fine)
1 small handful chives
5 radishes, very thinly sliced
2 oz / 60 g organic butter or ghee (use olive oil for a vegan option and skip the heating part)
2 tbsp organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1 spring onion, very finely chopped
salt & black pepper
Rinse and scrub the potatoes and place them whole in a large saucepan, cover with water and add sea salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Rinse and trim the asparagus by snapping off the dry ends. Place the asparagus in a steaming basket (or use a sieve with a lid) and cover. Remove the lid from the saucepan with the boiling potatoes and place the basket on top, the steam from the boiling potato water is used to steam the asparagus. Steam until the asparagus are tender, 5-10 minutes depending on their thickness.
Finely slice the sugar peas and radishes and rinse the cooked lentils. Melt the butter on low heat for the vinaigrette. Finely chop the spring onion and add to the melted butter and stir in apple cider vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
Place all salad ingredients in a bowl. Right before serving, add the butter vinaigrette and use your hands to toss until everything is coated in the vinaigrette. Serve immediately.