Sunday, June 7, 2009

Fantastic Foodie Day - June

San Francisco in June is usually very…unlike June, at least in most of the country. It’s foggy, overcast, windy and cold. Saturday, however, was in the high 60s and sunny with a light breeze; it was the perfect day for a trip to the Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building and the start to a great foodie day that culminated in my birthday dinner at Chez Panisse (post to come!).

This is my favorite time of year for the market. Summer produce is on its way in; the strawberries are ripe and ruby red through and through. The cherries are bursting with dark, sweet juice. The tomatoes and peaches are about to come into their own. There are still remnants of spring produce, as garlic and onion lovers search for the last tender baby bulbs. Citrus fruits and asparagus are being pushed out by stone fruits, peas and corn.

I would never call myself a salad person. I’m a devout carnivore and while I have nothing against vegetables, I prefer to reserve nibbling on lettuce for Peter Cottontail and his siblings. This bias may come from the fact that my childhood version of lettuce consisted entirely of the iceberg variety – watery and flavorless. The greens at the market are amazingly diverse in shape and flavor. There are sweet, bitter and spicy greens for salads, braises and purees. For some reason, the warm weather and sunshine prompted me to purchase a mixture of greens for a salad.

Irresistibly sweet strawberries and lemony flat-leaf parsley combined with the bitter greens…this was shaping up to be a delicious salad. Something was missing though – something salty. My last stop was to head inside the Ferry Building to Cowgirl Creamery. Goat cheese was too predictable and too insubstantial, but crumbly, toothier feta cheese made with goat’s milk would still have the salty tang I was looking and would also hold up in a salad.

When I got home and put together the salad, I realized that the crisp greens weren’t enough to satisfy my need for something crunchy. My last addition was a handful of toasted almond slices leftover from a recent baking experiment. Topped off with a drizzle of aged balsamic vinaigrette then finished with a few grinds of fresh pepper, this salad was a delicious and refreshing combination of flavors and textures. It was sweet, salty, slightly bitter and mildly acidic.

June Farmer’s Market Salad

I decided not to include quantities in the recipe. Not because I’m lazy, but so that you can adjust the proportions to your preference. My own salad was more about the strawberries and cheese than the greens!

· Fresh, ripe strawberries, quartered
· Salad greens – I suggest a mixture of bitter and sweet greens (arugula, mesclun, mizuna, frisée etc.)
· Goat’s milk feta cheese, crumbled
· Flat leaf parsley leaves, picked from the stem
· Toasted sliced almonds
· Aged balsamic lightly whisked with olive oil, salt and pepper (I personally prefer to not emulsify my vinaigrettes)

Toss the greens and parsley with ½ of the dressing, add more vinaigrette and salt/pepper to taste. Top with strawberries, cheese, and almonds. Enjoy! This would be great with a glass of rosé on a hot summer day.


  1. know me...i'm not that much of a salad lover either, EXCEPT, when it's made with exceptional ingredients as you had in yours above. i'm not a feta cheese lover (i know, i know), but i would substitute with gorgonzola or bleu cheese. your pics are fantastic, mouth is watering just lookin' at them!!