Farmers Market Favorite | Late Spring Market Salad with Pesto Aioli Dressing

These are the days of farmers market abundance-- the warmer days of late spring yield the first basil, beans, early tomatoes, and more, while the not yet hot-as-blue-blazes garden still provides root vegetables and too-early-to-be-bitter greens. With little more than a simple dressing, the salad bowl explodes with full flavor and riotous color.

Simplifying the task even further, we're utilizing local food producers' prepared pesto and aioli-- because they're as fresh as if we'd made them ourselves. You can find Kala's Kuisine prepared Spinach Walnut Pesto and Stellar Gourmet Foods prepared Aioli at Austin-area farmers markets, if you're lucky enough to live close by. If not, your own local markets might be a resource, or you may choose to make your own. This pesto, and this aioli, are good recipes with which to try your hand. 

After visiting with your favorite local farmers, return to your kitchen with a colorful, abundant market basket bounty, and throw together a simple salad you can munch on for days.

1 small bunch baby carrots
1 small bunch beets
1 pound young green beans
2T grapeseed oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 bunch basil
2T pesto (we used prepared spinach walnut pesto)
1/4 cup aioli (we used prepared aioli)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Prepare vegetables by scrubbing well and patting dry with toweling. 
  • Peel carrots, slice and reserve. Chop 2 T of carrot greens and add to a large salad bowl. 
  • Coarsely grate beet root into salad bowl. Chop beet greens finely and reserve.
  • Trim ends of green beans, slice into 1" lengths, reserve.
  • Chop basil finely and add to salad bowl.

Heat grapeseed oil to shimmering, add carrots, beet greens, green beans. Sauté until carrots are crisp-tender. Add lemon juice to pan, stirring vegetables well and incorporating any browned bits released from pan, for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Prepare dressing by combining pesto and aioli, adding a bit more oil if necessary to thin. Adjust seasonings with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Transfer sauté to salad bowl, toss with remaining vegetables, stir in dressing, and serve.

If you'd like to add a little more protein to the meal, might I suggest topping the salad with a handful of crushed toasted hazelnuts, a perfectly-poached farm egg, a simply-seared filet of fresh tuna, or if you're feeling ambitious, and a tad more indulgent, perhaps a panko-crusted pan toasted round of chèvre? 

This recipe was prepared for the Texas Farmers' Market Lakeline

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